To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand…
I. THE VICTOR'S REWARD.
1. As for the substance, it is simply that all-comprehensive, and in one aspect greatest of all hopes, the promise of life. It is as impossible for us to conceive of what the manner of future existence is as it is to predict, from looking at the egg, what plumage shall deck the wings of the creature that shall, in due time, come forth from it and soar to the empyrean. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Only this we know, that life in all its meanings shall be perfect. Limitations shall drop away; weariness, weakness, languor, disgust, which often creeps over us, shall have no place there. The eternal life of heaven is one in kind with the eternal life that Christians possess here. If we are to have the life beyond, we must have its beginnings to-day.
2. Turn to the form which this promise assumes. It carries us back to the beginning of Scripture, and reminds us of the story of Eden, and the tree of life there. So the end circles round to the beginning, and the purpose of God shall be fulfilled, and more than fulfilled, and all the weary centuries, with their sin and crime and failures, shall be, as it were, in a parenthesis.
II. THE GIVER OF THE REWARD. Jesus Christ steps into the place here of the absolute disposer of all human affairs and settler of man's destiny. In another place in Scripture we read that the gift of God is eternal life; here the Giver of it is Jesus Christ. So He said on earth, as well as from the heavens. He is the Judge. He knows the history and the affairs of all men. He gives eternal life. The Giver is more than His gift. No mere humanitarian ideas of Jesus Christ and His mission avail to explain such words as these of my text.
III. THE CONDITION OF RECEIVING. "To him that overcometh." Well, then, all noble life in the world is a fight. And to say "I trust in Jesus Christ" is not enough, unless that trust manifests itself in strenuous antagonism to evil, and realises victory over it. "To him that believeth" the promise is made in other places, but we must carry with that promise this other, "to him that overcometh"; and remember that no man who cannot say "I have fought a good fight" will ever be able to say with truth, "henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." What is an overcoming life? Many a man goes out of this world apparently a dead failure, beaten; none of his plans having prospered, none of his enterprises having been much else than semi-failures. And yet he may be one of the victors. And, on the other hand, a man that has achieved all that he desired, prospered in his business, been successful in his love, happy in his family, abundantly blessed with good, and crowned with universal applause, that man may be one of the beaten ones. For he conquers the world who uses it to bring him nearer to Jesus Christ; and the world conquers him whom it draws away from God. And how is that victorious life to be achieved? "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." I have said that mere trust without conflict and conquest cannot inherit the crown, but I also say that, wherever there is the true trust there will be conflict, and wherever there is the trusting conflict there will be victory.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;