Jesus had nicknamed his disciples James and John “Sons of Thunder”. In the days of the Lord’s earthly ministry there were situations where the sons of Thunder would come across rash and fierce – as in one evening when Jesus wanted to stop at a Samaritan village on His way to Jerusalem, however the Samaritans did not welcome Him because he was headed for Jerusalem. James and John were furious and asked Him: “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” but Jesus would have none of that and He openly rebuked them.
John, the Son of Thunder was now an old man. Exiled to the prison island of Patmos situated off the west coast of Turkey and the continent of Asia, he had a vision one Sunday morning. He saw Jesus in His glory. John was familiar with Jesus walking the dusty roads of Israel. There was no glory in that. Certainly there was no glory in being rejected and hung on the cross. But now John encountered Jesus in His glory whom the Father had given authorization without limit. Stunned and awestruck he fell to the ground. Jesus however stooped down and placed His right hand on him and said: (Revelation 1:17-20)
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
The Risen Lord had a long and complex message to convey and it needed to be written down. The beginning was directed to the seven churches in Asia – mind you there were no churches when Jesus walked this earth; these were the young emerging congregations that birthed the Christian movement after His resurrection and return to heaven – and now Jesus had a message for them, which in most part was a warning. To the church of Laodicea He said among other things (Revelation 3:20):
“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 that person, and they with me.”
There is such a thing as an established church that has Jesus standing outside knocking at the door. On a personal note this can happen to any believer. We can turn our faith into empty religious rituals. Jesus keeps knocking at the door of our heart in hopes that we let Him in and abandon religious exercise.
Faith in Jesus is no ritual. In fact, Jesus did not come to this earth to start another religion. I believe He is adamantly opposed to that. He came to invite everybody to return to God so the sons and daughters of Adam become sons and daughters of God. Growing the family of God is the desire of the Alpha and Omega, the faithful and true witness and ruler of God’s creation. Presently He stands at the door and knocks; He does not barge in. – When we open up we will meet Him at the door.