Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20
Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea. He has had no commendation for them, but He has indirectly told them that He loves them. And more, they are not at the point of total rejection. However, at some point that may come about if they fail to respond. With that in mind, He now says to them, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”
The tense of the verbs is perfect (have stood) and present (am knocking) – “Behold, I have stood at the door and am knocking.” Christ is using metaphor to convey a truth. There is a door which obstructs His entry. Being a door, it can be opened; it is not a wall. The door, however, requires someone else to open it. This is the implication of the words “and knock.” The Lord has placed Himself at the door, and He has been making His appeal continuously (am knocking).
This is clearly given to remind the reader of the words of the Song of Solomon –
“I sleep, but my heart is awake;
It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying,
‘Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.’” Song of Solomon 5:2
Just as the king (Solomon) is at the door of the one he loves, knocking for entry, so is Christ the King, knocking at the door of those He loves. The word translated as knock means to rap on a door to gain admittance. It is used by Jesus in Matthew 7:7 –
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
It is also seen twice in Acts 12 –
“And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, ‘You are beside yourself!’ Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, ‘It is his angel.’
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, ‘Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.’ And he departed and went to another place.” Acts 12:13-17
Using this metaphor is purposeful. Elsewhere, Jesus said, “I am the door,” such as in John 10:9. The meaning of this is that He is the access point to heaven. The Greek word can mean either “gate” or “door,” and it corresponds to the Hebrew word translated as “gate” used, for example, in Genesis 28:17 –
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’”
This was when Jacob had his vision of a ladder ascending to heaven where the “angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” Jesus then takes that account and ascribes it to Himself in John 1:52. Christ is the way to heaven, and He is the access point to heaven. And yet, in this verse in revelation, He is shown to be knocking on another door, petitioning the one inside to open it. In other words, man should be coming to Christ, who is the Door, and petitioning Him to allow access through Him into heaven, and yet Christ condescends to stand at the unbeliever’s door and petition him to allow Him in.
With this symbolism understood, He next says, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door.” This tells us that, like the account in Acts, the person on the inside is not only given a rap to alert them that someone is outside, but they have then been explicitly told who is outside. Further, this is speaking to an individual as opposed to the entire church. While the church may be lost, the person can still be saved.
In other words, the Lord is using these metaphors to relay a truth. God wants fellowship with someone who has failed to come to Him. He initiates the action, alerting him that He is there, and He then identifies Himself so that there can be no doubt who He is. When the heart of the person is willing, he opens the door – meaning he allows the Lord in. The terminology is simple and explicit. Further, it shows the simplicity of the process. To open a door takes little effort. The action occurs and the fellowship is realized. Faith is the key.
When a favorable response is made, and the door is opened, the Lord then says, “I will come in to him and dine with him.” The words here (as well as elsewhere) clearly demonstrate that the Calvinistic doctrine of “irresistible grace” is false. God does not regenerate people in order to believe, causing them to believe, which then saves them. That is not only an illogical doctrine, it is unbiblical.
Rather, when the response is favorable and the door is opened, the Lord promises that He will dine with that person. The imagery here is that of close fellowship and intimacy. To dine with someone brings a state of closeness that is almost unmatched in human experience. To further bolster this, Jesus ends with, “and he with Me.”
In other words, this is not like what happened with Abraham in Genesis 18 –
“So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.’ 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. 8 So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.” Genesis 18:6-8
James 2:23 says –
“And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.”
The Genesis account of Abraham watching the Lord eat came long after the words cited by James occurred. And yet, despite being called the friend of God, he did not participate in the meal with the Lord. However, because of Christ, not only does the Lord dine with a person, but the person also dines with the Lord. The gospels describe such a meal, where those who dine recline, even leaning on one another –
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23
In this, there is the idea of intimacy and fellowship that the Lord is conveying. It is something only possible with the Lord through receiving Christ, allowing Him into one’s heart. This verse in Revelation speaks beautifully of the transmission of the gospel to a dead church. Who will respond?
Although it is fashionable to belittle those who say, “Christ is knocking on the door of your heart,” this is the exact symbolism that is being conveyed. Christ initiated the process, He identifies Himself through the message, and if a response is made, He comes in. It is reflected in the words of Paul –
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:8-10
Of this verse in Revelation, Albert Barnes provides the following insights –
(1) that the invitation of the gospel is made to all – “if any man hear my voice”;
(2) that the movement toward reconciliation and friendship is originated by the Saviour – “behold, I stand at the door and knock”;
(3) that there is a recognition of our own free agency in religion – “if any man will hear my voice, and open the door”;
(4) the ease of the terms of salvation, represented by “hearing his voice,” and “opening the door”; and,
(5) the blessedness of thus admitting him, arising from his friendship – “I will sup with him, and he with me.” What friend can man have who would confer so many benefits on him as the Lord Jesus Christ? Who is there that he should so gladly welcome to his bosom?
Life application: After taking a strong and disapproving stand against the church at Laodicea because of their lukewarm attitude towards Him, He lovingly calls them back to Himself with a most precious offer. When we deal with those we know, the friendships develop in various ways. Some stay friendly but social, some become “go to the movies” friendly, some never really develop, and some make us rejoice when we draw near. But the friendships which become the most heartfelt and personal are the ones that involve a meal.
“Come to my house for dinner” normally means a close and personal friendship has sprung up and the type of conversation is far different than that of other interpersonal relationships. Jesus says to the Laodiceans, “I have offered My life for you and you haven’t respected that offer, but I’m willing to completely change the relationship if you will only let Me.” And so, the Lord stands at the door and knocks. In other words, He isn’t going to force Himself on anyone, but will rather allow those, who are willing, to open the door of their own volition. And it only takes one person to open a door, not the entire congregation – churches are not saved; people are.
That one person may be the inspiration to revive the entire group. If you are in a church that is in a poor spiritual condition, are you the one who will step forward and help revive the hearts of stone? Jesus is knocking and He is patiently waiting. When the door is open, He will flood each of those in the room who respond with His glory.
This verse isn’t meant to be applicable solely to the group, although it could be if the whole group responds. Instead, His terminology is personal – “I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Jesus is calling the individual and he who responds will have a meal with the King of kings.
Someday, a heavenly supper is coming, and it will be a banquet like no other. For those who respond to the call of Christ, what is stated here will be realized in an actual way. Get yourself ready for the choicest dining experience you can imagine… a meal with Jesus!
O God, to sit and dine with our Lord and Savior! It is more than we can imagine – nourishing ourselves with the Bread of Life and drinking wine from the Cup of Salvation. Even now, we have a foretaste of this glorious meal as we join together in the Lord’s Supper. What a joy to participate in this as we await that greater feast to come. And may it be soon! Amen.