Jesus Must Be In The Church Before He's At His Supper Therein (March 2014)
"Here I stand knocking at the door; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and he and I will sup together. To anyone who is victorious I will grant a place beside me on my throne..." Revelation 3,20-21.
The church of Laodicea, the last of the seven churches addressed by the risen Prophet and Lord Jesus, is materially rich, but lukewarm regarding the yes and amen matters of faith and the word of God, perhaps wearing the sleepy and pallid face of ease and wordly wealth.
So the Lord Himself (not John the Revelator) threatens to spit them out come judgment day.
But at present Revelation 3,20 tells us that Jesus is knocking outside the church door, still hoping that someone, anyone will let him in. This verse has been needlessly spiritualized. For the longest time I could not imagine a church failing to let him in, or that Jesus wouldn't just force his way in, or otherwise agree to show up based on our human say so.
But after fifteen years of discerning Ezekiel's description of God's presence definitively leaving, after God being definitively unhappy with the idolatry on the walls of the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel chapters 9-11), and after learning to trust what the Spirit actually says while visiting many churches over 25 years, I approach Revelation 3,20 with new eyes.
Without ongoing revelation regarding the whole of scripture, we can asess it to be dull and pre-packaged, as if made to our order and measure.
This verse is not about Jesus knocking on the "door of our hearts." How many times have we heard that? Our hearts don't have doors, but every one of our churches does.
This verse says that Jesus is sometimes left outside his own church, knocking patiently.
This "new eyes" interpretation of Revelation 3,20 has a real implication for our celebration of the Lord's Supper inside the church. Jesus is saying that there will be no intimate, knowing communion, no proper supper unless someone, some individual, hears Him knocking and opens His own church, and his own table, to Him.
It's sort of hard at first to understand that Jesus appears to address the messages to the seven churches, but then more specifically to each church's "angel", an individual. In the two thousand years of history this address to an individual has been interpreted as the church's individual pastor, or an actual angel (like Israel has Michael). Other's, more recently, known as dispensationalists, see this "angel" as a prophet at a particular time or "dispensation" in the history of the church.
As to the Lord's supper anyway, what's most interesting about Jesus' promise at Revelation 3,20 to come into the church and "sup with those who hear his voice" (sup- the same word used in the crystal clear, 1Corinthians 11,25 context of the Lord's Supper) is that someone, some individual (or individuals) have to hear and heed his voice, open up the door, and thereby allow his presence in.
At first it's sort of strange to think that the risen Jesus is admitting that he has to be let into it by an individual, by an "angel", or pastor, or communicant, by mere human individuals. But upon reflection this has always been the way God works, through the individual faith obedience of Abraham, of Issac, of Jacob, of Moses and the prophets, and the human Jesus, and now you and I, or someone else, in our Christian church.
God uses individuals to usher in his word and His Spirit. This is the ordinary way we learn (and then, if we follow Him closely, we can be taught by God ourselves, John 6,45).
Laodicea has gotten lukewarm and sluggish. Apparently, they don't care anymore if the risen Jesus is in the church, or blesses the bread and wine (1Corinthians 10,16). They don't care if he has left the building. Things are so bad that they don't even realize they are naked Spiritually. They don't have a clue that they are not ready for judgment. They have become 'the blind leading the blind' and they need some eye ointment, some Holy Ghost revelation, to begin to see again.
They also don't apparently recognize him in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24,28-35). If they did, Jesus wouldn't be on the outside knocking. Apparently, the breaking of the bread has become insipid, and trite and boring to them. So Jesus doesn't show up anymore. Thus, Jesus threatens "to spit them out of his mouth" (Revelation 3,16) These are his choice of words, connecting well to his stated goal to come inside and sup with them, a communion that Revelation 3,21 says is also related to our important and victorious placement on his throne. Hmm- this sounds important.
We also see a hint of this readiness requirement at the supper regarding the ultimate kingdom banquet it foretells. Luke 12,35-36: "Be ready for action, with your robes hitched up and you lamps alight. 36 Be like people who wait for their master's return from a wedding party, ready to let him in the moment he arrives."
Instead of readiness at the supper, communion in his own church, with his own blood-bought people, renewing by faith their new covenant, Jesus is left knocking.
Revelation 3, 20 also reminds us that If we're ready for him at the supper, we'll be ready for the wedding banquet.
And yet despite these important matters, it's likely that folks inside the church at Laodicea think he already is with them, and at the supper too. But Revelation 3,20 says these both hinge on the requirement of at least one person hearing and heeding His prophetic voice, at a certain moment in time, and then the opening the church door to that voice.
If Jesus can be shut out of his church, he can be shut out of his communion supper, a memorable spiritual sacrifice (1Peter2,5), a faith sacrifice that provides our Temples of the Holy Ghost with the fitting sustenance of his risen body and blood.
Are you, and I, and our church, inviting Jesus into the church to sup with us?
Or, are we leaving him outside, deaf to his knocking?
for short video re. the supper: http://vimeo.com/63572579
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...