Summary: What is the missing element of the church in America today? Suffering. Smyrna receives word from Jesus about The Preeminent Savior, The Persecuted Saints and The Promised Solace.
Smyrna: The Suffering Church
Smyrna was the “Crown of Asia.” Beautiful in appearance, Smyrna was also known for her wealth, commerce and religion. But she was intolerant of intolerance. The more this church was “crushed”, the more fragrant she became. The missing element in American churches today is persecution!
The Preeminent Savior 8
Jesus is the sum of all things. He must have preeminence in our lives.
First, notice His instructions to the church. He had not forgotten them! He has remembered their name as they are going through the fire!
Second, hear His encouragement to the church. Jesus is speaking to the pastor in Smyrna that He has not forsaken them. Jesus promised to never leave or desert us! He is the eternal One.
And then notice His sincerity. Jesus has been there and done that. He died for us and is risen from the grave! Jesus was a sinless man dying for a sinful and sin-filled world. He has experienced the most difficult of trials!
The Persecuted Saints 9
Because He is preeminent, He knows our heartaches. Above all, He knows the unending work. The work is relentless. Because He knows and cares, it makes our burden lighter for all we go through.
There is also the unbearable pain. They could identify with suffering. The name Smyrna is a derivative of the word myrrh. It comes from a red-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree Commiphora myrrha, native to Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia. The myrrh must be burned or crushed for the fragrance to emanate. The persecution spoken of here, comes from the Greek word, thlipsis (èëßøéò), which indicates great pressure and stress. Believers should emit a pleasant fragrance to God as they suffer for His glory!
There is also the unbelievable poverty. They were considered the poorest of the poor. They were beggarly. But notice the words Jesus had for them! They were really rich! The world does not value that which God values.
And then there was the unenviable slander. Just when we think things should get better they don’t. Not only were they being beaten and battered, but they were also spoken evil of. They were being slandered.
The Promised Solace 10-11
In the midst of our trials there is a promise! We will be comforted. Notice that Jesus comforts us with four exhortations!
First He said, Fear not! Even when you are in distress…trust Me! I’m there for you!
Second He said, Faint not! I know things are “a fixin’ to” happen, so stay true! It will only be for a short duration. Keep your hope and eyes on Me!
Then He said, Fret not! There is a divine destiny for you! When you die for My name, I have something better for you! It is a crown of life! Glory! What a privilege it is to suffer for the name of Jesus!
Last but not least He said, Forget not! The Spirit reminds us what we have and don’t have. We have an abundant life in Christ and we have avoided judgement for our sin! Glory!