Let’s do a little compare-and-contrast, noting two doors. From Revelation 3:20 (“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”), Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World depicts Christ at a doorway, patiently knocking and waiting for a response. As is often pointed out, the doorway seems not to have been opened for some time: the vine growth is significant, and the hinges are perhaps rusted. Jesus knocks, patiently and carefully—seemingly a perfect gentleman.
And then we turn to Revelation 4, where things shift decisively and thunderously. John says that he beholds nothing less than another door, standing open to heaven. What’s more, he hears a voice—sounding like a trumpet—calling him forth: “Come up here!” And at once, “I was in the Spirit,” he says, “and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it”: the very throne of heaven! The chapter continues and is, in many ways, one of the most unique in all the Bible because of the revelation of what happens behind the open door.
Two doors: one closed, the other open. There is much—so very much—to say about each. For now, simply consider the contrast between the image of Jesus waiting for us to open a closed door, and that of being taken “at once, in the Spirit” to an open door, to behold the Lamb who was slain.
However we begin to understand this imagery, let us not lapse into sentimentality, thinking that Jesus is the sort of gentleman who would never insert himself without an invitation. He most certainly does. He will not leave us trapped in our own trespasses and sins, weaknesses and wounds. One is reminded of his going through the door of the upper room, after his resurrection.
He opens the door and comes to us, taking us to himself. At the same time, he stands with the ever-present invitation of “come.” Peculiarly, we often find that the very thing that he speaks begins to happen. He speaks “come,” and like John, we find ourselves with him.
Were you at the Advent on August 3 (2014)? We sang the most remarkable closing hymn. Standing simultaneously at the doors of Revelation 3:20 and 4:1, we heard again the remarkable invitation to “come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore.” Just as remarkably, many of us found ourselves found by him, the one who alone can do good to helpless sinners. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you, full of pity, joined with power.
He is able; He is able; He is willing; doubt no more.
Come, ye weary, heavy laden, bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ‘til you’re better, you will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous; sinners Jesus came to call.
Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requires is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you, ’tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
Lo! The incarnate God, ascended; pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him, venture wholly, let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus can do helpless sinners good.