One comedian observed that, in today’s culture, we don’t always look forward to an unexpected knock on the door. While in past decades, the family would have rushed to open the door and welcome their guest, today we are more likely to dim the lights and retreat. We are suspicious about who might be visiting and wonder why they stopped by unannounced.
Let’s pray that’s not the case when Jesus stands at our door and knocks (v. 20). Today’s verse is often quoted to indicate Jesus’ love for sinners. While these things are certainly true, this is not what this verse means in context. How do we know? To begin, this passage is a letter to the church at Laodicea (the seventh and last in the series of letters found in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3). These words are addressed to believers, not unbelievers. Sadly, these believers are lukewarm in their commitment to Christ (vv. 15–16), putting their confidence in material wealth. They’re oblivious to their true spiritual state (v. 17).
This is a discipline situation; a change of heart is needed (v. 19). When Jesus stands at the door and knocks, He’s not there as a guest but as their master, calling the church to repent and stop being halfhearted followers. They need to put their confidence in the “white clothes” of salvation, not in material wealth. If they answer the door and respond to His call, He will come in (forgive) and eat with them (restore close fellowship).
Christ’s correction is motivated by love (Prov. 3:11–12; Heb. 12:5–11). A chastened church is not “damaged goods” but remains the Body of Christ. Therefore, the letter ends with a promise—for those who respond well to the discipline—of reward and victory with Him (vv. 21–22).
>> The wealthy city of Laodicea was known for banking, medicine, and textiles (thus the choice of images in verse 18). We, too, live in a prosperous and materialistic society and face many of the same temptations. Do we likewise need to listen for Jesus’ knock?
A familiar image of Jesus knocking on the heart’s door of lukewarm Christians is a warning to the church today. Ask God to give us warm and passionate hearts, open to His will, and in close fellowship with Him.