[Text: Luke 12:35-40]
“So that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”
It reminds you, does it not, of the beautiful image here to my left. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” For our Lord is a gentleman. He never barges in where He is not welcome, where He is not invited. If you insist on Him being on the outside of the door, shut out of your life, He will allow that. He will even allow that eternally. But it breaks His heart, and so He stands and knocks. He wants to enter your heart, to enter your life, because He knows that His presence brings joy and life, forgiveness and healing.
In fact, in tonight’s Gospel we are told that He asks to enter precisely so that He might “dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.”
In other words, He asks to enter that He might be your servant. That is His joy. It’s why in our hymnal we call the liturgy “The Divine Service.” Because we know that our Lord, the Divine One, is among us as One who serves, whose delight is for us to allow Him to be our Servant. He comes to us to wash us from our sins, to clothe us in the bright robes of His righteousness, to feed us the Feast He has prepared – His very body and blood for the forgiveness of all our sins. He comes to sing over us a love song from the heart of His Father – and He promises us that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love that is ours in Him. He remains today the same Servant Lord that He revealed Himself to be on Maundy Thursday, when literally took of his clothes and put on a towel to wash the feet of his disciples.
But as I said, He won’t barge in. He knocks. He desires entrance into our lives, into our heart, our minds, our homes. But never by compulsion.
And will you open the door to Him? As you think back over the year past, you might recall moments when He was knocking and begging entrance, when you declined to have him come in. And why?
His presence indeed spoils the party when the party is sinful. In His presence, gossip has to die, for He drives out the Accuser of the Brethren and Himself speaks well of the human race before His Father’s throne in heaven, as our Advocate. In His presence, pride has to die. There is no room for our strutting about when we are with the God who loved us so much as to take on human flesh and blood, the God who went to Calvary’s cross to blot out the handwriting that was against us. The God who humbled Himself to raise us up. And His presence does indeed drive out other guests that you might want present – when those guests are the demons. His presence has a way of challenging the entire way you order your life, your priorities, your thinking, your spending, your use of time, the sites you visit on the internet, the TV shows you watch, the movies you see, the books you read, and how you use your treasure and your talent.
He knocks, and He wants to enter, but let only those open the door who can bear the consequences of His presence, of His coming in. You cannot say: “Yes, Lord, come into my life” and at the same time tell Him: “But please don’t be changing anything. I’m happy with things just the way they are.” His presence with you won’t allow it.
Tonight as across the world people make their resolutions for change in the new year, here is a worthy resolution for each of us: Lord, when you knock, I will open.
You will find then that you need to stay “dressed for action and keep your lights burning” – as you make your constant prayer: “Come in, Lord Jesus. Welcome to my heart. Welcome, to my life. Welcome, to my home. Come in and fill me, use me, lift me up to the heights of being a servant with you.” You’ll need to stay dressed for action, then, because He will delight to answer that prayer. He will come to you.
You will see him on the face of a friend, a spouse, a child; you will see him in the beggar with his hand outstretched for mercy; you will see him in the sick and the suffering, the dying and the mourning, the lonely and the forgotten.
He will be there in all of them and in all of them He will be knocking at your heart’s door. Will you let Him in and then will you serve with Him? He serves you that you might come to serve others also.
“The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” That’s not just a warning that the glorious Appearing of Christ will come as a surprise; it’s fair notice that He intends to knock on the door of your life this year in many ways and through many people. It may be the middle of the night. It may be during the course of the day. Maybe it will be at the gas pump, or standing in line at the grocery store, or eating at your favorite restaurant. But He’ll be there. And if your prayer is always “Come in, Lord Jesus” whenever He knocks, you will find that His real presence is not confined to the Holy Eucharist, but that He fills the creation itself. Really and truly.
Because nothing in all creation can separate you from the love of God in Christ, everything in all creation can speak to you the love of God in Christ. The God who is always and everywhere “for you” – He is the one who knocks. The One with the nail scars, the One with that tender look of love upon His face. Always the gentleman, never forcing Himself upon a soul. The Lord who humbly begs entrance to serve us that He might make us servants. This year, come, Lord, enter in!