Smyrna: The Church That Wears A Crown
When Ancient Meets Current: A Study of the Seven Churches of Revelation
By Ed Gregory
Bible Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Preached on: Sunday, July 17, 2016
First Family Church
317 SE Magazine Road
Ankeny, IA 50021
Good morning. Isn’t that beautiful sight, all those children headed out to study God’s word together? I like even hearing their little voices and the excitement and enthusiasm that they have. I also enjoy watching people come in to worship and as adults, as we come in to worship, seeing the joy and anticipation, enthusiasm about being here. How many of you are glad to be here today? Amen. Glad to be able to be here today? Yeah, all of us. I should say that I had a minister of music that once said, “How many of you would rather be here today than in the best hospital in town?” And I think that probably that he was hurting for decisions that day or something but looking forward to it. But I’m so thankful that we have the privilege and the freedom to come together in a public place to sing and worship the Lord with all our hearts, out loud in a public way. Aren’t you thankful for that today? I am very thankful that we live in a land where we still have that opportunity. I know that you’re aware that in our land, you know, faith and Christianity in particular are under assault. There are many indications that the freedom that we have has been and may continue to be eroded away so we may not enjoy it as fully and freely as we once have.
But I am here to say to you today also that we have it better than lots of places in our world. Some days we get up and we think, “Oh man, it’s just terrible here now.” But then when you look at the newspaper or watch the news and look across the world and we see those countries where people are literally under severe persecution for their faith. In fact, there are many places in the world where Christians are in jeopardy if they openly express their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and especially if they try to share that faith with someone else so that they too can become a believer. In fact, there are places where Christians in our day are being martyred and I know that’s not news to you, but I tell you, it should make us even more thankful for what we do have because there are those places where that is the case.
In today’s lesson in Scripture, we’re going to be looking at just one such church. As we continue this series “When Ancient Meets Modern: The seven churches of the book of Revelation,” we’re going to be looking today at the church in Smyrna and the church in Smyrna was a church in Bible days that was called upon to live in that circumstance that we have just described, called upon to lay their lives on the line for their testimony of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the letter that the Lord sent to them, we find some very interesting and very important truths that I believe will help us in our day when we allow the ancient to touch us in this modern setting that we’re in. We are not where they were yet, but we could be just there. It’s interesting that this particular church is described in that setting as the church that wears the crown; the church that has been exalted by the Lord. I subtitled that “Victims Yet Victors: More Than Conquerors,” and we want to unfold that passage of Scripture that talks to us about that today.
If you have your Bibles and can turn with me to the book of Revelation 2 and there we’ll begin with verse 8. I want to read the letter and then we’ll unpack it a bit and talk about some ways that that might apply to us today. Notice beginning in verse 8, Revelation 2,
8 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 suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
As we look at this passage, you’ll recall the context is that John the apostle is on the isle of Patmos and the Lord comes to him and gives him a special message that he entitles for us there in the first verse of chapter 1, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” Now, the context here is such that he wants us to have such an understanding of who Jesus is and what Jesus can do that we can face and endure anything, even those end-time things called tribulation, things that are to come. So in this book called in the first verse, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” we see a vivid and powerful presentation of Jesus himself and we also see him sending messages to the churches about, “the things that are and the things that are to come.”
In this passage and we took time to read the whole thing, you will find him describing himself in ways that let us know that he has always been God; he has always been on the throne; he is going to continue to be on the throne. He is not going to abdicate his authority to anyone at any time in any generation. Now, that’s the Lord we serve. Sometimes if we get our eyes on the circumstances that surround us, we’ll begin to wonder about that, but this book is given to us to help us understand, “You don’t have to worry at all. The Lord Jesus is still Lord of lords and King of kings and he will be to the very end, the very end of time.”
If you look in that passage, chapter 1, I want to just read some of the verses beginning there in the second part of verse 4 and reading down for several verses to listen to the exclamation of who he is in this passage. Notice,
4 Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” 9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
Now I take time to read that passage because it gives us the word picture that is the backdrop for the whole of the letters to the churches and to the book of the revelation. This passage of Scripture paints for us a dynamic picture of Christ in his authority and Christ in his power and Christ in his majesty and it reminds us of who he is and of what he can do for us.
You’ll notice in the passage that John was instructed to write these things down and send them to the seven churches that are in Asia and those seven churches were listed there, and when we look at those seven churches, we’ll find that they were real historical churches existing in that day and so the letters were specifically written to them initially. So there is this historical application to these particular churches.
Others see these passages, these letters, as being dispensational as well, in other words, that each of those churches represents a certain phase in the history of the church from the time of Christ until the end of time, and there is some application there but what we’ll find out is that in each one of those letters, there are some things that apply to the historical church, some things that could apply to the phases like the last days would be the Laodicean church, the lukewarm church, but as a result in every age, there were churches who fit all of these categories and thus there is that general application. In fact, in the end of these letters, he said, “He who hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches,” not just “the church.” So there is this general application that says that this letter is to a specific church but this letter is for the churches; this letter is to be kept and it is to be read and the information contained therein find application in each one of our lives.
So in this passage of Scripture beginning there in chapter 2, verse 8, we see the word being sent, “to the angel,” or messenger, “in Smyrna write.” Now, when we talk about Smyrna, it’s an interesting place. Smyrna was a beautiful city but there was an evil heart; there was an evil undercurrent in this city that wasn’t obvious. I mean, if you had gone there as a tourist or perhaps it was a port city, if you would just pass through doing busy, you may have never seen it, but if you lived there, it didn’t take you long to know that there is something not right; there is something rotten in Smyrna; there is something not right here. It was a beautiful city but it was a hotbed of Christian persecution in that day. The things we alluded to in the beginning, those things were real for the church in Smyrna. That beautiful city in that beautiful setting was considered to be one of the most beautiful places in all of Asia, in fact in at least some part of their history said that they were the first in beauty and the first in the allegiance to Rome and those kinds of things, so they identified themselves as being a proud place of the beauty and all the things they had going for them there in that place in Asia Minor.
Interestingly, the name of the town, Smyrna, is the same Greek word that is also translated “myrrh,” and you’ll recall myrrh when Jesus was given gifts at his birth by the wise men, or shortly thereafter. He was given gold, frankincense and myrrh. And then you’ll find record of when bodies were buried, they were prepared for burial and in the linen cloth that was used to wrap them, they also included this spice or this specially fragrant substance that was included with them so it was a very aromatic, very good smelling thing. So we don’t know why the city was called myrrh. It may have been that the trees from which myrrh was made, they crushed the tree to make that particular spice, it may have been because of that, but the fact is Myrrh was such an ancient city that there is actually no record of when it actually began but we do know that it was a favored city and that though it was destroyed time and again by earthquakes and by fires, it was always rebuilt. Some places just went away, this one was constantly rebuilt and in fact today, Izmir, Turkey is the city of Smyrna and today a city about the size of Des Moines. So continually throughout history, it’s been there. So it was a beautiful city.
Another interesting thing that might speak to the nature of the city that we’ve said, beautiful but with an evil heart or something is wrong there, when it was first designed, the architect forgot to include proper drainage for the city and because of that, every time it rained, the streets became sewers and what was often blessed with the winds off the sea being a port city as beautiful and pleasant place with those soft and sweet breezes turned very different during the times of rain. I wonder if something providential wasn’t there in his forgetting that because, here again, a city of great beauty with a facade that said, “We are the most wonderful place on earth, especially in Asia Minor,” and yet underneath, there were those things that were hurtful and harmful.
One of the things that we know, we’ve said it was a hotbed of Christian persecution. It was a place where the religious community of the past and the government of the present teamed up to intentionally assault the Christians who were there. They worked hard. It was known as a place of many martyrs for the faith. One that might be known to you is Polycarp. It happened actually about 40 to 50 years after this letter was written so this continued on for a long time in that city, but he was already in his 80’s, an early church father already in his 80’s and one day they heard that he was there or decided to make an example and a riot mentality was created. “Go find him! Go find him!” And they brought him and burned him at the stake. That required the authority of the government but it also was supported greatly by the religious community there. In fact, we are told by history that they actually went out and gathered up the wood to dispose of this Christian heretic, this Christian who preached or proclaimed allegiance to Christ. So it was in that environment that the church at Smyrna was planted.
We’re not told a lot about the history of the church. It is believed that it was begun through the evangelistic ministry of the Apostle Paul in Ephesus. We know that he spent a good deal of time there and that the word went out to the regions round about there and so it probably was started during that period of time. It’s notable that there is in this letter to the church at Smyrna, no word of correction. Remember the church at Ephesus last week? “I know your beliefs and I know your works and I know your moral purity and all of those kinds of things, but I have something against you, you’ve left your first love.” In almost all the letters there is a word of correction but to the church at Smyrna, the Lord doesn’t find need to send a word of correction but a great word of encouragement to them. The letter to the church in Smyrna is a letter of encouragement to them to live out their faith in a very difficult situation and I would say the message to us today is the same. As things get worse and more difficult and as Christianity becomes less popular and in some cases under direct assault, we must resolve that we will in love and truth live out our faith; that we will remain faithful to the Lord.
So let’s just walk through the description that’s given to us here in this passage and I want to do it by picking words. We’ve read the passage already, but I want us to notice some words. First of all there in verse 9 he says to them, “I know your tribulation.” The word “tribulation” is a word used often in Scripture and it’s a word that really means “to be pressed or crushed.” Paul talked about being pressed out of measure, so pressed that I’m changing shape, I’m being deformed, I’m being crushed. And these folks were living under constant pressure like that. They were being constantly pressed out of measure or being crushed by what was happening around them.
The second word that we’ll note also in verse 9 is the word “poverty.” “I know your tribulation and your poverty.” There is more than one word for poverty in Scripture, this is the word that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the latest and the best, it means they don’t have what they need. It probably implies according to some historians, that the Christians were all relegated to a slave class where in reality they owned nothing. They didn’t have anything. They didn’t have the necessities on their own and so when he talks about their being in poverty, he’s talking about folks who don’t have anything, any security as far as this world is concerned.
The third thing we hear about them is that they were slandered there also in verse 9. “And the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not.” The word “slander” is a word that means “to destroy with words; to be talked against; to be torn down.” It’s the same word that’s translated “blaspheming” when it’s toward God. But here the slander is toward the Christians there and they are being falsely accused in every realm of every kind of thing. Everything they did, you know, they would partake of the Lord’s supper and they’d be accused of cannibalism because they’re eating bodies and drinking blood. Though it was figurative, that was the accusation that was made against them. If they met in secret, then they were a secret society. They’re against the government. All kinds of things were said about them that were not true in order to keep them in bad light and to justify the attacks that were made against them.
Well, it’s been bad already but in this letter, they’re reminded it’s going to get worse. If you continue on reading there in verse 10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.” The word “suffer” there is simply to say, “What you’re going through, the things that are going to be happening to you, don’t fear.” What do you mean, don’t be afraid? When someone says, “Don’t be afraid,” then probably you have something that you might be afraid of. “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer.”
And then there will be direct attack from the devil. “Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.” There is that pressure. They’re going to put you under pressure probably like you have never experienced before.
Then he says, “Be faithful unto death.” I believe the implication of Scripture here is that some of them are going to die. They are going to be cast into prison, they are going to be put under greater pressure than ever to recant, and then some of them in a very short time will be giving their lives. “Hey, I know a job opportunity in Smyrna. Anybody interested? Just have to relocate there. There is a little church there, the Christian folks there. You know, you’d have some fellowship. Does anybody want to go?” Well, nobody wants to go when you know the truth, when you know what’s underneath the surface of that beautiful city, especially if you’re a person of faith.
Well, they lived in the reality of 2 Timothy 3:12 that says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Now, brothers and sisters, that doesn’t just apply to them, that applies to you and to me. If we’re going to live out our faith fully, we can expect that the enemy in some way will come against us and so the question is not if but when and how bad. It’s not will there be opposition, will there be trouble. We should not be surprised that the enemy is assaulting Christianity and the Christian faith and the church in our day even in the United States of America. We should not be surprised that that’s happening. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen and the question is not if, but when and how bad.
And the second question is: how are we going to respond to it? What are we going to do if things get worse than they are? What would we do if we lived in an environment like the one in Smyrna in that day? What would you do? Well, I think that we all hope we know what we would do, we hope we would be like Polycarp that said, “The Lord has been faithful to me for 85 or 86 years and he has never failed me and never let me down and therefore I will not deny him. You don’t have to even tie me up, just bring on the wood if that’s what it means. My Lord has been so faithful to me, I will be faithful to him even to death.”
Well, we hope we would but will we? The question then becomes: how can I? The key then in this whole passage and in this whole book is that really in our relationship to and our focus upon the Lord himself. We have to do something that’s almost become just a cliché to the modern church, that is we’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus. We’ve got to stay tuned into, walk with, stay close to him because he is the one who has help and hope in the midst of all of that. If we start to looking at the circumstances and the situation, the things around us, we’ll be like Simon Peter was when he was asked and invited to walk on the water but when he started looking at the storm instead of the Christ, he began to sink, and we’ll find ourselves in a similar thing as well.
So this moves us from looking at a city, beautiful on the outside but corrupt at heart, a city that was a hotbed of persecution, looking at a church that had been called to serve God, though they were victims, yes, but to be victorious and an intensely persecuted situation, they were called upon to be very intent in their faith and faithfulness. That church is called and we are called to turn our eyes on the Christ, the never changing, resurrected Lord who cares and who will take care of us.
Do you believe that today? Do you believe it? Do you believe that he is the Lord, the Almighty, the resurrected Christ? That he is alive today? Do you believe he cares about you in your situation? Do you believe he’s going to take care of you? He’s going to help you no matter what? The end result is going to bring glory to him and be good for you? Well, would you believe it if you lived in Smyrna? That’s the question. The fact is, this whole thing sets up a pretty strong test of our faith but it brings us to this point, in fact it’s said there, “You’re going to be tested. Your faith is going to be brought to the point where you’re going to find out if it’s real or not.” We haven’t been there yet, folks, but we’re going to find out if it’s real or not when you get to this circumstance.
So here he points them to the answer for getting through that kind of circumstance and that’s in that picture of Christ, part of which is drawn from that painting that we already described, that word picture in the first chapter that we read, and here beginning back all the way in verse 8, he says, “Before I say what I have to say to you, let me tell you who’s talking to you here. And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.'” And so this passage, first of all, if it asks us to put our eyes on the Lord, it tells us who he is.
“The first and the last” describes him as unchanging. Always will be what he has always been. He was here when it all started. He will be here when it’s all over. He’s described in other places as “the alpha and the omega.” He’s described as “the author and the finisher of our faith.” He started it and he’s going to see it through. He is not going anywhere, not going to leave us nor forsake us. He finishes what he starts. In fact, back there in chapter 1, verse 8, he said, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come,'” and then these two words, “‘the Almighty.'” That’s who he is. That’s who we have with us in the midst of the storm that may come our way. So he is described as “the first and the last,” the unchanging and eternal God who is upon his throne and who has the power to do all things.
The second description is that, “I’m the one who died but who came to life.” Now, if we go back and think about his death, we can understand how that they could identify with him and that he can identify with them. You remember how he was falsely accused. You remember how he had no guilt at all and yet he was accused of all guilt, all kinds of things, and eventually “he who knew no sin became sin for us.” You remember the physical punishment and torture of his death. You remember the ultimate fact of the public disgrace of a crucifixion on a Roman cross. All of those things he went through. They’re not facing anything that was not real in his death for them. So he’s been there. He knows. He understands where they are but he says to them, “Remember, I died,” but on the third day, what happened? He arose. He arose the victor, the song says, o’er the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign, victors, not victims, at the end of it all. So who he says he is is, the first and the last, the one who died and came to life, and then what he does, what he has to say to them and what he will do for them is also included.
The first thing I point out in verse 9, he says, “I know. I know.” There are two main words in Scripture for “know,” one is ginosko, I know experientially. He has already told them that in his title. “I know because I’ve been there. I’ve experienced it all.” But here in this passage, he uses the word oido which is a word that means, “I know all the facts. I know the truth.” The word “omniscient,” that God is an all-knowing God. “There is nothing happening that I’m not aware of. I know what’s happening to you and in your circumstance.” And he personalizes it, “I know your tribulation and your poverty. I know what’s going on. They’re going to cast you into prison.” So he brings it down from a general knowledge to being specifically aware of what’s going on with them.
Then he makes a statement to them, he said, “One of the things I know about you is your poverty. I know all the trouble you’re going through, how you’re being pressed and all of that, but I also know your poverty.” Then he adds this phrase, “but you’re rich.” I think that maybe took them back first time they read it. “What do you mean I’m rich? I don’t have anything!” He’s saying to them, “You have something that all the rest of these folks even in all their wealth don’t have. This whole city doesn’t have what you have because you have the spiritual things that are of eternal value.” You’re rich, so words of encouragement. He’s saying, “I know and so I’m able to take care. You’re rich even though you’re in poverty.”
Then he uses that familiar phrase that he has so often to say to his children in verse 10, “Don’t be afraid. Do not fear what they are about to do to you. Suffering, prison, testing, tribulation and even death but because you know me, you do not have to be afraid of any of those things that are happening.” Hey, there’s a resting place, there’s a place of peace, a place of joy near to the heart of God and in the place of being in the will of God.
Then he gives them a word of instruction, “Here’s what you do: you just be faithful. I’m not asking you to do something extraordinary to prove yourself and all of that, but I am asking you to be faithful; to let your faith in me direct the way you live, the way you act, the way you react and respond to what’s happening to you. Let your faith in me create faithfulness in you and when you do, I will,” first of all, he says, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” Some folks say, “Well, is that a crown that has ‘life’ written across it and they’ll run around the city wearing this crown?” No, no, it’s the crown which is life. Jesus is saying, “Everything I promised you, everything I promised you when you were brought from death to life, for now and for eternity, you have my life in you, you will spend eternity with me. The crown of life is yours no matter what they do. Even if you have to be faithful to death, you already have life, eternal life.” You know, in some ways they’ll be doing you a favor. You get to move from Smyrna to heaven. That’s a pretty good deal. Now, I’d go there. I’d volunteer right now. You see, the tact is that it’s hard on this side but from heaven’s perspective, there’s a whole different thing going on and so he says to them, “Listen, you’ve got life already so no matter what they do to you, even if you die, you’re going to be with me forever. You have everything that eternal life has to offer. Be faithful unto death and I’ll give you this.”
Then he goes on to say to them there, “Not only will I give you this,” but he says to them, “To him that conquers,” the last part of verse 11, “will not be hurt by the second death.” I’m going to have life but I’m not going to have death. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. You’ve traded one for the other and there’s no trading back. You will not be touched by the second death. You may have to go through the first one and if Jesus doesn’t come back, we all will in some form or another, but you will not be touched by the second death.
While empires like Rome have long since fallen and those who reject Christ and fight Christianity are perishing, we will be ruling and reigning with Christ. We will be wearing the crown of life. While they make us their victims, Christ has already made us victors, more than conquerors. He can say then and he does say, “I am the first and the last. I died but I came alive and I have the keys to death and hell. You don’t have to be afraid.” How can we do it? We do it as we said earlier, by getting our whole focus back on Jesus; letting life emanate out of our relationship with him, our life that we have in Christ, let it be the heart of and the soul of everything that we are and our focus on Jesus and the Jesus on whom we focus will see us through this thing. No matter what happens, we can start already celebrating the victory.
I want us to read a couple of passages of Scripture together and as we read them, they’ll be on the screen, as we read these passages of Scripture, if indeed the Lord speaks to you through the passage about Smyrna and the other passages to come, if he speaks to you and there is a need for re-commitment in your heart and you’re ready to make that re-commitment or if there’s a word of comfort and strength that you gain from it and it’s resounding, it’s speaking to your heart, while we read these passages together, I want to ask you just to stand up. Not everybody to begin with but just stand up in affirmation of your renewed commitment and/or God has brought comfort or peace. Now, at the very end of the service today, there will be some folks up here who can actually pray with you. We’d be glad to meet you here and pray with you. We’ll have another brief prayer meeting going on as well, but you’re welcome to come and folks will be ready to talk with you and pray with you and help you with any spiritual need that you may have, any concern that you still have but for now, just to make a statement if God is speaking to you.
The first passage is the one found in Hebrews 12 and, again, it will draw our focus on Jesus and what he offers to us. Let’s read it together, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
Then another passage taken from that beautiful statement in Romans. Notice this passage that we pick up there in verse 34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised,” remember Revelation? “I have died but I’m alive. “But was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen? Amen.
Here’s our take home truth for today, read it with me: it is not the absence of trouble that identifies us as faithful Christians but it is our faithfulness in the midst of conflict which demonstrates the reality of our Christianity and ultimately brings God’s reward. Hallelujah. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and his grace. The church was in trouble but Jesus is on the throne and though they were victims, there was victory in Christ. That victory is still ours today.
One of the ways that we keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus is that when we come together to worship, we come to the Lord’s table and at the Lord’s table, we remember his broken body. He died. And his shed blood, and we remember that because of his broken body and his shed blood, we have life, life forevermore, eternal life. So at this point in just a moment we’re going to stand together and you’re going to be invited to come to one of the tables where the elements are prepared, and as you come, come remembering and come thankful today that the Lord has died that you can have life. So he has prepared for us a reminder of that fact and yield in a fresh new way your heart and life to be faithful unto him no matter what, even if it’s unto death.
Let’s stand and as the musicians come and are in place, as the Lord speaks to you, the tables will be ready, they will be opened and ready to serve here in just a moment, and when they are ready, feel free to come and take the elements back to your seat.