Sometimes we use words so much they start to lose their meaning. How often do you reckon you’ve said ‘Amen’? I reckon I say it at least 20 times during the week. But then on Sundays I say it a lot – I reckon a further 20 times. That’s up to 40 times a week, 52 weeks a year – that’s over 2,000 times a year. There probably aren’t many words I say more than that, except possibly ‘Pizza’ whenever Jess asks, ‘What would you like for dinner?’
But what does it mean?
In John’s gospel, when Jesus says, ‘Truly truly I say to you’ (or ‘Verily I say unto thee’...) – the word ‘truly’ is Amen.
We use it at the end of prayers to mean, ‘I agree’, or ‘may it be so’.
The word ‘Amen’ is Hebrew for ‘definitely’ or simply ‘yes’.
Jess and I have been watching a BBC programme called The Repair Shop. People bring old family heirlooms to be repaired instead of lying unused in a cupboard. During the opening credits they show some people receiving their repaired items – cue tears of joy and delight. And one woman fist-bumps the air and says ‘Yes!’
Jesus is ‘the Amen’ (14) – he is God’s ‘Yes’ to you. God looks at us and says, ‘Yes!’ And he wants us to say ‘Yes’ back to him.
We saw a warning in our reading today. Remember, these are Jesus’ words, and they are quite blunt. The word ‘spit’ in v16 is actually ‘vomit’ – Jesus is ready to ‘vomit’ these Christians out of his mouth.
They have been saying ‘Yes’ to the wrong thing. Instead of saying ‘Yes!’ to God they are saying yes to worldly things, to worldly wealth. They have all they need, they tell themselves, but they do not realise they are, ‘wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked’ in what really matters (17).
‘Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline,’ Jesus says (19) – in other words, take note, listen, and repent!
This letter from Jesus to the church in Laodicea ends with an image made famous by Holman Hunt.
‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’Revelation 3.20 (NIV)
Where is Jesus? He is here tap chest.
He wants to come in, he wants to join us, to eat with us. This week Jess and I had a lovely curry night with a friend via video call. It’s not quite the same, but even at that distance it was wonderful to eat together.
Jesus wants to come in and eat – with you. He stands and knocks with so much patience, and he longs for us to open the door and say, ‘Yes! Come in and eat with me.’
You see the thing about an invitation is, it does you no good unless you reply. A friend invites you for dinner – lovely. But if you don’t respond, if you don’t go round, the invitation is wasted.
It’s like that with Jesus’ invitation, with God’s ‘Yes’ to us in Jesus. If we don’t respond, the invitation is wasted. If we don’t say ‘Yes’ back, God may as well say, ‘No’ to us – and in fact he will. He doesn’t want to – which is why Jesus warns us! He wants us to turn, he wants us to say ‘Yes’ back. Please don’t waste his invitation by ignoring it.
But an invitation is also wasted if you turn up on your friend’s doorstep, stay for a few minutes of chit chat, and then head home. You’ve missed the main event: eating together!
Sometimes we get uncomfortable with Jesus in our lives, because he says challenging things to us – like these words here. We don’t want to hear the truth that we need to turn and repent from our greed and selfish ways. But friends, we need to.
These are precious words, words spoken by Jesus, ‘the Amen’, God’s ‘Yes’ to us. As he says at the end of the letter (22): ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear.’
Are you listening?