“Here I am! 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.” Revelation 3:20
If you had lived in Palestine in the early first century, it is unlikely you would have had an intimate relationship with Jesus; you would have been fortunate to even get a momentary glimpse of him passing on the road. And if you lived in any other country, the possibility of knowing him was completely out of the question. The number of Jesus’ friends, followers, and confidants during his short life was relatively quite small. He spent most of his time for the 3 years of his public life with 12 men and a relatively small number of other close followers. Strange, you may think, for one who was and is the Savior of the world. Mary Magdalene knew him and he transformed her. When he was suddenly taken away and crucified, thinking she may never see him again, she turned from his empty tomb in complete tears, vaguely saw someone before her, and once recognizing Jesus by his voice, her reaction was more than ecstatic. Yet when she naturally went to clasp his feet expressing her love for her master, teacher, healer, her all in all, he warned her not to hold on to him as she had known him. The reason? He said he had not yet ascended. Something had changed because of his resurrection and would change more dramatically in his ascension.
Jesus was constrained (except for a few instances) to the normal restrictions of those with mortal bodies; constrained from his Bethlehem manger birth to his death on the cross. Now, his death and resurrection had opened the door to a whole new relationship available to those who believed in who he was, no matter their earthly location or time of day anywhere in the world. His final words before ascending from the mountain to his Father were, “And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He was personalizing to himself the promise his Father had made centuries before to His people, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Later in a letter from Jesus to his church which his disciple John received and recorded from his grand vision on the island of Patmos, Jesus says to those whom he loves and disciplines and who know him, “Here I am! 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.” Very reminiscent of his intimate fellowship experience with two despondent followers walking to the town of Emmaus on the day he rose from the grave (Luke 24), but now repeatable.
Jesus was saying to Mary outside his now empty tomb that his death and resurrection had changed his relationship with her and all others for the better. It was now possible to be intimately in fellowship with Jesus in every location at any time, a relationship we ourselves can enjoy 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ ascension; a fellowship we ignore to our great misfortune and unhappiness; but a fellowship, if desired and sought, which makes all the difference in our life. Jesus had told his disciples in advance about this coming change, but they failed to grasp it until after his ascension. He had told them that if he did not leave, the Counselor, the Spirit could not come to them. But when he did come he would make it possible for Jesus to have fellowship with them always and everywhere; especially important as they were scattered to many parts of the world. The very same fellowship available to us today accompanied these apostles and Jesus’ believing followers from the ascension to their deaths, when they were again welcomed into his presence. But this intimate fellowship appears missing from many Christians’ lives today. Do they listen for his knock? Do they hear his voice in the silence? In the storm? In the ordinariness of life?
What does Psalm 23 mean when David says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”? “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” It speaks of an intimate fellowship with our Good Shepherd in this present life (i.e. “in the presence of my enemies”). How frequent and how real is your intimate fellowship with Jesus? Do you go in by faith and eat with him and he with you as a habit of faith? Do you sense his voice of invitation? Do you consciously value his promise, “Surely I am with you always,” taking advantage of it for palpable fellowship? Jesus spoke about the reality of this before his ascension, promising it to believers during the time before his return. It is definitely something of faith. Sight only comes beyond the grave or at his return.
If this kind of intimate fellowship with Jesus sounds foreign to you, it needn’t remain so. The context of Revelation 3:20 makes clear this promise is for believers, and is not a plea to unbelievers whose hearts remain closed. It is a plea to you to enjoy often the offered fellowship and intimate relationship with your Savior. He sets a table before you. Invite him into your inner sanctum and eat.
“In want, my plentiful supply, in weakness my almighty power, in bonds my perfect liberty, my light in Satan’s darkest hour, my help and stay whene’er I call, my life in death, my heav’n, my all.”
(4th verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose”, 1749)
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