Revelation 3:20 may well be the most-quoted Bible verse in today’s churches. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me.”
Some teachers/preachers make much of the fact that the passage in which it is found was addressed to a church (Laodicea in Asia Minor) and not to an unsaved individual. If context is everything — and I do not believe it is; it’s much but not everything — then, that alone should warn us off using Revelation 3:20 in an evangelistic situation.
The fact is evangelism was precisely what was needed in that Laodicean church. Undoubtedly, some of those church leaders needed saving! If that’s the case, then this fascinating verse was meant exactly for the purpose for which we use it today.
All that aside (I really do not intend or wish to debate that point), there are three wonderful surprises in this verse which I’d like to call to your attention:
One: There is a surprise about Jesus. Look how willing He is to bless us. He has done everything necessary for our eternal life and salvation and forgiveness and usefulness in the Kingdom, and has gone the extra mile in bringing it right to our doorstep! In fact, He does everything to get us into Heaven except one thing: He will not force it on us.
Remember the old saw about “where does the 600 pound gorilla go?” (the answer being, “Anywhere he wants to.”) Well, you would think that would also be the answer to the question “Where does the Lord of Heaven and Earth go?” But it isn’t. There is one place He will not go without an invitation: into the human heart.
Two: There is a surprise about Salvation: it’s a party, a banquet. “I will dine with you and you with me,” Jesus said. Anyone who reads the four gospels has noticed how often when Jesus wants to make a point about the kingdom, He begins with, “A great man gave a feast” or “a great king gave a banquet.” Interesting how Jesus sees salvation. While the enemy tries to shoo us away from Christ by calling it a “fast,” Jesus says, “No, it’s a feast.”
If you are not familiar with Tony Campolo’s book, “The Kingdom of God is a Party,” let me urge you to get it.
Three: There is a surprise about our role: we get to choose. Jesus does not make the decision for us, but pays us the supreme compliment by bringing His gift of salvation right up to us, then backs off. “Choose you this day…”
Two quick stories on this subject….
Jim Pleitz (longtime pastor of First Baptist-Pensacola and Park Cities-Dallas) used to tell a story from his Arkansas childhood during the Great Depression. The Pleitz family was dirt poor, he said, but they lived next door to the baker who had a daughter named Melvina. (Jim would laugh, “You never forget a girl named Melvina.” I agreed because I have a cousin of that name!) Sometimes in the summer or on a Saturday, all the kids in the neighborhood would go on a picnic and bring along their lunch. Jim would bring the only thing available from his Mom’s kitchen, leftovers. His lunch would consist of a biscuit or two, leftover bacon, and a baked sweet potato. But Melvina’s lunch would contain all those day-old goodies from the bake shop—chocolate