In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “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.” Aw, Jesus is such a polite guest, isn’t he? He stands at the door of our hearts if we’d just open up and let him in.
At least, that’s the picture we paint with that verse. But that’s not the context.
Jesus is addressing the church at Laodicea, to whom he gives another famous verse: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. So because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.” And he rebukes them for their complacent faith (Revelation 3:16).
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” That’s verse 19, right before he says, “I stand at the door and knock.” This is not the picture of a guest looking for someone to welcome him into their heart. Jesus Christ is the master of the house.
And when the Master comes back — because remember, this is the book of Revelation. We’re talking about the return of Christ here. When He comes back, He expects to find alert and working servants — not lazy, complacent freeloaders acting like they own the place. Such persons will be thrown out into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In Matthew 24, Jesus says, “Be ready, for the Son of Man will return at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Matthew 24:44-46).
And when he comes, it will be as a conquering King, and we will sit with him and all of the faithful at the wedding feast of the lamb. That’s a much more glorious picture than that of passive Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts, when we understand the text.
“Stay dressed for action, and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him once he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:35-37).