There is no rebuke made by Jesus about the church in Smyrna, yet she seems to have been the church of the seven who suffered the most. Here we are reminded that we cannot judge spirituality by providence. Their losses were not evidence of divine judgement but of their determined devotion to Jesus. It was obvious that they put Jesus first. And we can learn several important lessons from them.
How do we hold out against strong opposition? The church in Smyrna was under attack from the pagan government and from the religious Jews. They did not have powerful friends in the city. The way that they would hold out against their opponents was by having big views of Jesus and his work and by keeping in mind the great future that belongs to the people of God.
We do not need a lot of earthly resources to survive. The Christians in Smyrna had little of this world’s assets. Yet they had a future because Jesus informed them that only some of them would be arrested and killed. It is well-known that usually churches that suffer for the Lord survive against all the odds. Smyrna had a future because at the time Jesus spoke there was no threat to its lampstand from him.
The devil hates the people of God. We need to remind ourselves that the devil is consistent in this regard. He hates God and his people. While he cannot touch God, he does aim to destroy the church and sometimes the method he favours is persecution. There are many churches today going through the experience that Smyrna endured towards the end of the first century.
We can bring pleasure to the Saviour as he walks around the church. As we have seen, the letters to the seven churches are the response by Jesus to what he discovered when he walked among the churches. We are told what he felt when he walked near the church in Laodicea. He would have had a very different reaction to the devoted saints in Smyrna. The day is coming when they will hear him say to them, ‘Well done!’