“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write...” Revelation 2:8
Smyrna is the second church that the Lord addresses. They were facing great persecution. You can hear in the name Smyrna the root word myrrh. Myrrh is a death spice. In the Bible, we read that it was used as a part of the preparation of bodies for burial.
Why was the church facing persecution?
Belief in Christ began to spread. Many were becoming followers. But there were also many who became enemies, making it their single focus to wipe out the followers of Jesus.
We see in the book of Acts that Stephen was dragged before the Sanhedrin, questioned, but then taken out and stoned for his faith. I love what it tells us of his last moments. He looked up as the stones were pelting against him and said aloud, “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56
We know from Hebrews 12:2 that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God. But look at what it says here in Acts. Stephen saw Him standing. What a welcome! As Stephen took his last breath here, Jesus stood up to welcome him home to take his first breath in heaven.
Stephen’s death began a wave of persecution against believers that continues to this day. Christians around the world face persecution. It is not over yet. But remember, as we take our last breath here, He will welcome us home to take our first breath there.