Revelation 3:18, 20, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and a white garment so that you might cover [yourself] and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes that you may see…
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; If anyone should hear me and open the door I will come into him and eat with him and he with me.”
In verse 18, Jesus explains what He is offering to the church at Laodicea: Pure gold, white garments, and healing salve. These gifts address the specific spiritual needs of the church that the Lord has already explained in verse 17.
Note, however, that when Jesus sums up His offer for spiritual help in verse 20, it doesn’t sound anything like the offer He made in verse 18. In verse 18 we get a list of goods that Christ stands ready to give, in verse 20, Jesus restates His offer simply as Himself standing at the closed door of this people’s heart. Further, He does not say, “if anyone opens to me, I will give them pure gold and white clothing and healing salve,” rather, He says, “if anyone opens to me, *I* will come into him” and “*I* will eat with him…”
Where did the offer of gold and clothing and ointment go? The offer is still present, but it has been sublimated into the single offer of fellowship with the living Christ who died and rose again. How are the Laodiceans to “purchase” from Christ true spiritual riches, pure covering for their shame, and the healing balm that gives true sight? They “purchase” these things by opening themselves to Him. He is the pure gold, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price, the fullness of all that God gives and is (Col.1:15-20, Eph.1:7, 3:19); He is the holy and clean covering, the one who gives and is the blood-washed purity of His people (2 Cor.5:21, Rev.7:14); and He is the true light of God’s self-revelation who dispels the darkness of spiritual blindness (John 1:4), and who—once our eyes are opened by the healing balm of His Spirit—is the one we see in all that we see (Ps.36:9, 2 Cor.4:6).
To open one’s whole being to this Lord and so to receive Him into oneself and there to hold intimate table fellowship with Him by the Spirit—this is true wealth, true purity, true sight. And this is what Christ offers to Laodicea…..that they would open to and so receive fellowship with the living Jesus Christ.
And how does one open the door of one’s heart to Christ so as to receive Him and the fullness of life that He is? In Laodicea’s situation, it would seem that humble acknowledgment of their wretchedness and of their desperate need for Christ is central. They say in verse 17 that they have no need, trusting instead in their material wealth…..this is what needs to change. They need to repudiate this worldly—Babylon-like—self dependence and fall wholly on Christ as the all-sufficient one.
However, I seem also to hear in this passage something of an echo of Jesus’ words in John 14:23,
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
It would seem that one makes their heart the home of the Lord by loving Him (bound up in this is the acknowledgment of wretchedness and of need mentioned in the previous paragraph) by loving Him and so keeping His word….His word which—in John—is the Johannine “Great Commandment” to believe in Him (as the revealer of God) and to love as He has loved us. In other words, one opens their heart to Christ as they hold fast to who Christ is revealed to be at the cross and as they reciprocally love those around them in this same way of self-giving unto death in the name of the Father (which is the name of the Son). We open our hearts to the indwelling presence of and intimate fellowship with the living Christ by laying down our lives in His name to love as we have been loved (see also Ephesians 3:14-19 and the relation of loving to the indwelling of Christ by the Spirit).