Answering the Door
Robert Wurtz II
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
It’s astonishing to think that the Lord Jesus was knocking at the door of the church at Laodicea, and to this point, no one had answered. They were having meetings and doing “church activities” but Jesus was on the outside looking in (pardon the well-worn phrase). How could this be? What were the sermons like? What was the song service like? Did they believe that God was among them? I can’t help but think of a definition or religion I once heard. Religion is worship in the absence of God.
It seems almost a contradiction that Jesus was prepared to spew the congregation out of His mouth while simultaneously knocking at the door of the church. But this is the Lord offering an olive branch with one hand and a sword with the other. It all depends on our response. Jesus wanted in. He wanted to be Lord of that church. He was long-suffering. He was not willing that any of them would perish but come to repentance. Again, He came with an olive branch in one hand and a sword in the other. What would they choose?
The Voice Calling Out
In picture language, the dealing of the Holy Spirit is demonstrated not only with a hand knocking, but the voice of Christ calling. This is the Holy Spirit dealing with individuals in the churches. I can almost hear (as it were) the hand rapping against the door as the voice calls out, “Bill, Bob, Nathan, Tom… it’s me, Jesus. Won’t you let me in? I’m not here to critique your house. I’m not here to condemn you. I’m here to bring fire. I’m here to raise the temperature in your life and save this church.”
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION, IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, WHERE YOUR FATHERS TESTED ME, TRIED ME, AND SAW MY WORKS FORTY YEARS. THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THAT GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN MY WAYS.’ SO I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST’ (Hebrews 3:7-11).
Nobody at Laodicea was answering the voice. Everyone ignored the knocking. Just as Saul and the other religious leaders in Acts 7 always resisted the Holy Spirit, these also hardened their hearts when they heard His voice. This is what Israel did when they provoked God in the wilderness. Ignoring the voice of God when He is desperately dealing with us is the most dangerous thing we can do. Why? Because the Holy Spirit will not always strive with humankind.
Understand that Jesus could have spoken the word and that door would have vanished or He could have walked right through it as He did in John 20:19. But He wanted an invitation. He waited for those simple words, “Come in, LORD.” Or as Samuel responded, “Speak Lord, your servant hears you.” God doesn’t want robots, He wants willing subjects. He wants sons and daughters. To become one, we must “receive Him.” Not in the modern-day falsehoods of high-speed evangelism, but receive Him to come alongside as our savior and lord in the genuine article.
Starving in Fear
The late David Pawson once related the story of a minister who visited a poor starving woman with groceries. He knocked and knocked and though he knew she was home, she never answered. He placed the groceries at the door and went home. Sometime later, he passed by the home and saw the woman outside. He recounted that he had visited with groceries, but no answer. She replied, “I didn’t answer because I thought you were the rent collector and I didn’t have any money—so I didn’t answer.”
Why would someone think that Jesus comes to collect, when in fact, He has already paid the price? The old hymn says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away.” This is what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary. There is nothing to collect from us except our faith and faithfulness. We have no price to bring, simply to the cross we cling. Yet, like this poor woman in Pawson’s story, “many refuse to answer because they think He is there to demand when He has truly come to offer” (DP).
Come and Dine
The fellowship motif is familiar in John’s writings. We are told in John 14:21 that if we keep the commandments of Christ, the Son will manifest Himself to us, and Father and Son will make their abode with us (John 14:23). This is how we invite the Lord into our lives. This is how we answer the door. When we hearken to His voice and respond in faith we are inviting Him into our life.
Notice the passage again, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” We have nothing to offer the Lord to “eat” so He will bring provisions. Like the children of Israel when they were commanded to eat the Passover lamb with their loins girded… we eat with the Lord (as it were) with a readiness to move out. He comes in to dine so that together we move out; out of our metaphorical Egypt, under the blood, and into a life of faith. But it must begin with that first act hearing and responding to His knocking and speaking.