Jesus says to John (Revelation 2:8), “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive.
And John who is writing this left everything to follow Jesus because he believed Jesus to be, in Peter’s words, the “One who has the very words of eternal life.” He place his hope and his life on the belief that Jesus was King. And:
- He was there as Jesus was mocked, spat upon and whipped.
- He was there as Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross.
- He was there when soldiers stabbed Him in the side with a spear.
John was there during the most extreme moments of Jesus’ suffering. And he knows THIS Jesus as dead…but now alive. First…and Last…and everything in between. King of the Extremes.
I don’t panic about a trip to the grocery, I don’t fear a day at work, and I’ve never gotten anxious about an afternoon nap. But the extremes of life – birth, death, sickness, hurricanes, cancer, war, crime, suffering, torture – those are the things that keep me up at night. Those are things that enter nightmares. The extremes are where and when you gotta have a good King. A strong King. A powerful King.
Not a pony-tailed pastel Jesus with flowers in his hair.
Jesus is King of the extremes.
If you lived in Smyrna (İzmir, Turkey today) around 125-155 AD, you’d know of a pastor named Polycarp. Granted the name sounds strange. It doesn’t mean “many trash fish.”
Poly does mean many. Carp in Greek meant fruit. So his name means “much fruit.” Apparently his parents hoped that he would “Bear much fruit,” (John 15:8).
Polycarp is kind of a big deal in Christian history.
And because of his faith, he was to be burned alive.
Smyrna was a center of Roman Emporer worship. You had to pronounce once a year, while burning incense, “Caesar is Lord.” Understandably, Polycarp refused. His answer is
“Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
How can I blaspheme my King who saved me? Jesus is King of the Extremes.
Even as soldiers were preparing to fasten Polycarp to be burned, he told them he’d stay on the fire, no need to be tied up, because “He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me to also remain on the pyre unmoved.” Jesus is King of the Extremes.
And Jesus will be the King of your extremes. A King who can handle it all and carry you safely to the other side.
Extreme poverty? Jesus is King.
Extreme worry? Jesus is King.
Extreme pain? Jesus is King.
Extreme grief, sorrow, heartache? Jesus is King.
In fact, Jesus’ authority stretches to the extreme: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. His authority encompasses the entire globe. That’s extreme.
Whatever may come your way, have no fear, Jesus is here and He will overcome it all. And He is King of the Extremes.