It’s amazing how so much can change over time! If one was to visit Sardis in Western Turkey today, one would be greeted by a vast array of ruins; the crumbling shells of what was once a magnificent and illustrious city. Seven hundred years before this letter was penned by John, Sardis stood as one of the greatest cities in the world! Sardis was THE celebrated capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia and was also of great importance in the era of the Persians and also the Romans. Yet sadly, when one looks for this eminence and splendour today, one looks in vain; all is but a faded memory of a bye-gone day, Sardis’ former glory now confined to the pages of antiquity, its ruins serve as a testimony of what once was!
The sad reality of the matter is that the passing glory of this ancient city was reflected by a Church which was found in it. Once this Church excelled in spiritually and godliness; yet, by the time our Lord addressed them, they had retained the name but had lost the reality of what earned them that name in the first place. “...thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”. There is much that we can learn from the Church in Sardis and the words that our Lord spoke to them; may God give us the grace to hear what the Spirit saith.