Jesus' Words To The Church In Smyrna
A few weeks ago I was going into a gas station and I was hoping that they would have a popcorn machine. When I saw that they did, a smile came upon my face. I went to the popcorn machine and began to grab the door to open it. In that moment, I heard someone say, “Sir, I will get that for you.” I immediately let go of the door and looked around to see who had said those words. But the only employee that I saw was busy at the cash register and he was not looking at me. He was looking at the people who stood before in the check out line. Because of this I concluded that he must have been talking to someone else.
Again, I grabbed hold of the door so that I could get a bag of popcorn and then I heard that same voice scold me quite severely, “Don’t do that! I said that I would get that for you!” To be honest, I was somewhat offended and shocked by these words. I don’t like being yelled at.
Through that experience I began to appreciate how eye contact would have made all the difference in that situation. If that employee would have made eye contact with me the first time that he had said something, I would have known that he was talking to me and I would have obeyed him. I would have applied his instruction to my actions.
Similarly, let us consider Luke 6:20-26. In this passage we find Jesus surrounded by people but He does something that is meant to catch the attention of His disciples. So that they will hear something important that He has to say. This action by Jesus was necessary because of the great crowds that had begun to surround Jesus everywhere that He went.
Because of these crowds, Jesus begins in Luke 6:20 by saying, “And He lifted up His eyes upon His disciples, and said...”. With the large crowds Jesus’ disciples could be distracted in some way. So Jesus looks directly at them and says something important. Jesus’ words are meant to gain their attention and to direct their hearts heavenward even when life brings some undesired moments.
This is what Jesus says,
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Just as Jesus looked His disciples that day and told them what they needed to hear; so too, in our text today Jesus will turn his attention to the church in Smyrna and tell them what they need to hear. And by extension He is also telling all of His churches what they need to hear concerning remaining fearless and faithful through times of tribulation and persecution.
Our text today is Revelation 2:8-11 which says,
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suff