“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)
When I was younger and worked at a day camp, we were given Scripture verses we had to memorize in order to know how to share the Gospel with kids who may be interested in giving their lives to the Lord. I think memorization is a good idea for helping get the Word in us, and therefore I’m not against having an understanding of where the Word of God says certain things we base our hopes and understanding on. However, I usually hear the concept of Jesus standing outside, “knocking at the door of our hearts” used in an evangelistic sense towards unbelievers. It’s not.
Though I’m not discounting its meaning for the unbeliever to enter into that relationship and let Christ in, I think there’s such a deeper meaning to it than just ‘letting God in’ as if He’s lonely and wants us to let Him in so He can have some company–as though Jesus is a loner and giving our lives to Him is a favor we’re doing Him like letting him sit at our table in the cafeteria during lunch.
We have to remember that Christ was speaking to seven churches, and in this specific context was saying this to the Church of Laodecia. Previously we’re told the Lord found them lukewarm and would spit them out of his mouth ( 3:16), and that He finds them wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (v.17) despite their perception of themselves to be rich and lacking nothing. He goes on to state “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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.” (v.19-20) Interesting how leaving that verse in its context helps shed clear light, but I digress.
I stated in a previous article that I recommended reading the book of Revelation right after reading the Song of Solomon, and therefore I’m of the opinion that what this passage is really talking about is displayed in the fifth chapter of that Song. We’re gleaning heavily from S.J. Hill’s “Song of Solomon: Rich Language For a King’s Devotion To His Bride.”
I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking.”Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.” I had put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.
I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.
(Song of Solomon 5:2-6)
The Bridegroom’s knock here refers to the initiative God takes in bringing His Bride into new dimensions of His Spirit. Jesus’ purpose in knocking is to get her to open up completely to Him. He wants all of us. The context–being in bed and having expected that Her Bridegroom would be there as well–demonstrates that she is in a place of mature obedience, and not one of refusing to get out of bed and answer the door for Him. Sleep speaks of being in a place of rest. The Bride has complete confidence in the Lord, and she is resting–but her heart is ‘awake’ in the sense that she is willing to walk in obedience without any conscious area of compromise, without any hesitation. She was at a point where normally, He was there next to her, but on this occasion, she awoke to find He was gone, but calling her–knocking from outside.
“I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again?”
Her robe (garments) speak of her own works (see Rev 19:7-9). She’s simply saying, “I’m not standing before You on my own merits. I’ve taken off my robe and I’ve put on Your robe of righteousness.” Her statement “…I have washed my feet, how can I defile them?” is not reflective of her refusing to obey Him, but instead, a commitment to avoid spiritual defilement. How could she defile herself by disobeying Him in light of the great love He had for her? She is simply saying “I’ve done it my way. My feet were dirty with my own walk, but now they have been cleansed by the Lord.“
The ‘hand’ of the Beloved on the latch of the door, signifies the grace of God (see Acts 11:21-23). The “latch of the door” itself representing the door of her heart. The Bride’s heart yearned for Him as she heard His voice, and she arose instantly in response to open the door of her heart to Him. This depicts Her full obedience. Her response was not one of compromise, lethargy or lukewarmness.
“…my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.”
Myrrh in Scripture speaks of suffering and death. This is a picture of the Bride opening up her heart so the Cross will touch every area of her life.
This is also the type of fellowship Christ–the Bridegroom–is seeking and looking for. He is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking and seeking for the same response and reaction as He obtains from His Bride in the Song: immediate and unquestioning obedience and loyalty. “I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” We are to respond to this call, not just let Him carry the relationship. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He longs for a people whose heart skips a beat at the thought of Him. He is looking for a people whose breath is taken away at the sound of His voice, not out of fear and trembling alone–though an appropriate response–but out of delight and fascination.
I recently learned that when a Jewish man wants to take a wife, the girl’s father instructs her to prepare a meal for a man who wants to marry her, but he does not tell her who. On the appointed day, the girl has been cooking all day and the man comes and knocks on the door. She opens the door, and he asks, “May I come in and eat with you?” if she does not want to marry the man standing there, she shuts the door in his face. If she lets him in, she is accepting his proposal. They eat the meal together, then the betrothal covenant is read and to enter into the covenant, they drink wine from the same cup and eat off the same piece of bread. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20). John–“the one who Jesus loved”, raised in Jewish tradition and custom–must have recognized Jesus’ words as a proposal to His Bride–the Church! Some say that communion is reminiscent of sharing the bread and cup in the betrothal covenant as well.
Jesus Christ delights in us, His people. He is fascinated with you and I, and it is true that He longs for the same passion to be reciprocated towards Him. He longs for a people He can have fully to Himself. Not out of fear, or out of religious obligation, but out of holy fascination that He is worthy of such instant obedience. From a place of delight and joy, not out of fear of punishment or reprisal for not measuring up to a religious standard. He’s looking for a people He can rest with. The Son of God is looking for a people who are not bored with Church, but consumed with a passion for Him and His presence.
There is much ministry and activity going on today in the Body of Christ. The statistics of pastors burning out annually and dropping out of the ministry are staggering. The amount of ministers who continue plugging away at church endeavors, and running programs for the people–though good and noble, but yet void of the presence of God–is higher than it ever should be. No ministry, church, or leader will ever produce any fruit except it come from the secret and intimate place with the Lover of their soul. Jesus longs to work through, and live in a people who will let Him. Not just to bless our programs that we run and ask Him to be involved in as an after thought, but to allow Him to have all of us. There will be no earth shaking revival fire spreading across the earth without a people who are wholly consumed with Him.
He’s looking for, and seeking…you. Will you answer Him?