Death is a subject we often brush aside or try not to think about. But it’s just a sad fact that death is currently an inevitable part of our broken planet. We don’t have to feel helpless in this bleak situation though. The Apostle Paul describes a wonderful future day when Christ will return to this earth and break death’s power over our world: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep….Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 51, 52)
The resurrection has been a big topic for Christians down through the ages, but with all the writing and sermons preached on it, I can see how the promise can slowly start to be taken for granted. It’s so familiar that we sometimes speed by it. But this definitely wasn’t the case for the Christians in the Church in Smyrna. The little town of Smyrna in First Century Asia Minor had its problems. The Christians there were apparently going through harsh persecution and they desperately needed God’s fortitude and encouragement to weather the imprisonments, threats, executions, and other trials. Here’s how Jesus chose to encourage them: “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: ‘I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)...Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’” (Revelation 2:8-10)
Jesus refers to Himself as the resurrected One; the One “who was dead and came to life.” This was a tremendous promise for the weary believers in Smyrna. The resurrection wasn’t a distant, ho-hum idea for them. They were eager to see their fellow believers who had been martyred for their faith. They were waiting breathlessly for the restoration of this chaotic, old planet to the glorious perfection it had before sin marred God’s creation. Their bleak situation made the resurrection day of utmost importance. We still have trials today friends. They may be different, but our hardships are still very real. We can also lean on Jesus by remembering His glorious promise of a resurrection someday. Resurrection power isn’t just an intellectual concept. It’s a real promise that Christ has sealed with His own death and glorious resurrection!