In this, my final study of the church of Laodicea, Jesus told the church that he was standing at the door and knocking (Revelation 3:20). In Revelation 3:8 Jesus mentioned a door was open for the church at Philadelphia, and no man was able to shut that door. The door was authority to preach the Gospel (Acts 14:27; 1Corinthians 16:9; 2Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3). Jesus is that Door (John 10:7). By knocking (Mark 7:7; Luke 11:9) and walking through the Door (John 10:9), we have authority over the world, i.e. to preach the Gospel, and through it to mold the world’s conscience after Kingdom principles. By Jesus walking through our door (our hearts), he has authority over our lives to mold us into the image of himself (the image of God (Hebrews 1:3; Genesis 1:27).
Jesus had just finished telling the church that he intended to rebuke and chastise them in order that they might be zealous for him and repent of trying to serve him through their own strength (Revelation 3:19). Therefore, Jesus’ knock at the door of their hearts announced his presence, probably coming in the form of sickness, trouble or perhaps persecution. Indeed, Jesus’ knocking may have come in the form of the earthquake that devastated Laodicea, cir. 60-62 AD. Jesus expected the church to hear his voice and open the door. That is, to open their hearts to him and leave the comforts of the flesh by trusting in him (cf. Song of Solomon 5:1-16). The response must come from them, if free will was to be maintained.
What Jesus desired was for the church to fellowship in his sufferings. He wanted them to zealously and courageously reach out to become like him in all things. He wanted them to repent of their desire to serve him safely through the flesh—i.e. through their own resources. Jesus said that he would give the overcomer the right to sit with him on his Messianic throne, just as he had overcome and has been sitting with his Father on his throne.
Thus, the Laodiceans were told that they must overcome, just as Jesus had overcome. He is and has always been the model for all believers to imitate. By imitating Jesus, believers are molded into the image of God, because, as man, Jesus was the exact image of the substance of God. Therefore, by imitating Jesus one becomes the image of God (Hebrews 1:3; Genesis 1:27).
Two distinct and different thrones are mentioned in Revelation 3:21. The first was Jesus’ throne, the Messianic throne, while the second is God’s throne. They are not the same. By being invited to sit with Jesus on his throne (i.e. the Messianic or Davidic throne) we are invited to partake of his authority. In other words, Jesus is King over the nations, but they are in a state of rebellion. Nevertheless, as we preach the Gospel, the nations begin to yield their independent and rebellious labors to Jesus. Through the Gospel we exercise our God-given authority over the nations. We bring every thought of man that seeks to exalt itself above God into submission to Christ (2Corinthians 10:5).
Concerning the throne of God, by sitting upon his Father’s throne, Jesus is declared to be God, himself, because God refuses to share his glory with anyone or anything else (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). He certainly would never permit mere man to sit upon his throne. This is what the rulers of this world seek to do but are unable (cf. Isaiah 14:13-15). Men rule by force, but God changes the hearts of men, and in so doing, men desire to know and imitate him.
It would be wrong for man to sit upon the throne of God, because God’s throne is the heart of man. He rules our hearts, and we govern the world (cf. Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:4-8). It would be wrong for man to try to rule his own heart or the heart of another man. To do so would effectively be molding himself or the second man’s heart into the image the first man believes it should be. We do not and cannot sit upon the throne of God, yet, as disciples of Jesus, we are invited to share in the authority he exercises from the Messianic throne. We do this by preaching the Gospel and, thereby, directing the hearts of men toward godly behavior and, therefore, toward God.