I’m in the middle of a teaching series on Sunday called “Reveal” which takes us through the Gospel of John. The aim is to reveal who Jesus is and why he is significant. I don’t normally blog about my sermons but am doing so here for two reasons. One, I think there is something beneficial for everyone, whether you are in recovery or not (yet). And two, I leaned heavily on a chapter in one of my favorite books, We Would See Jesus, by Roy Hession. Perhaps in reading this you will be led to buy his book and read it once or a thousands times. I would.
So the following are highlights from the sermon and the book. You can view the sermon below. I pray it blesses you.
Jesus as the Door
In the beginning there were no walls. There was perfect fellowship between God and humans, and perfect fellowship between man and woman. We didn’t have walls between us until sin entered the fabric of the universe. You can read about this in Genesis 3. Almost immediately, after Adam and Eve reached beyond what God instructed, a wall went up. Shame and guilt surrounded the relationships both here on earth and between us and heaven. This is what sin does. While it promises life and freedom it delivers only death and shame. With each transgression it’s as if we are adding another rock to the layer until we wake up one morning and find our fellowship with God and others strained.
Even those of us who have walked with God for many years experience this wall from time to time if we are not vigilant. It’s so easy to allow jealousy or bitterness or some resentment to erect a wall almost without our awareness. Creep happens, where the things of this world entice us bit by bit and we unintentionally give ground, allowing sin to tantalize us just for a moment and before we realize it a habit has developed. This habit soon becomes an addiction and we wake up one morning with a great wall between us and God and our fellows. Who among us have not had periods of famine where it seems as though the pages of scripture have dried up and our prayer life has grown stale and worship has become routine?
And what do we try to do when we find a wall? We try to fix it by doing more. We pull up our boot straps and determine to scale the wall. We try, try, try harder. We white-knuckle ourselves until we are blue in the face and we fail again, frustrated that the wall now seems higher rather than more manageable. If only there were some other way through this wall!
Read John 10:1-10. Here we discover the great truth that God has not left us to eternal separation and frustration but has provided not only the one who can show us the way through the wall, but is the way himself! Jesus not only points us to the door, but he is the Door! If only we will come to him and acknowledge that we are in no position to scale the wall on our own, we will find the abundant life he promises (John 10:10).
As we consider Jesus as the Door, we discover four characteristics of this door. Each of these by themselves are significant and praise-worthy. Taken together, they will revolutionize anyone’s world, and set them free.
1. It’s an OPEN Door.
When Jesus hung on the cross and announced it is finished, the wall (veil) separating the most holy place within the Temple from the rest of the world split in two. Jesus forever demolished the wall that stood between us and God requiring that we work our way towards salvation through the Law. So open is this door that the biblical authors declare we may now go boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy (Hebrews 4:16).
What qualifies us for this door? It is our sin that makes us qualified to come enter through it. It is our coldness, our unbelief, our hard hearts, our addictions, our jealousies, and a myriad other ways in which we sin which qualify us for this Door, provided we will simply acknowledge this. We cannot conquer or suppress or scale these things on our own, but are invited to judge these things as sin and bring them to the open Door.
2. It’s open at STREET LEVEL
Not only is the door open to everyone, it’s open to us right where we are. We do not need to dress ourselves up in order to make ourselves look more presentable before we come to Jesus the Door. This is Good News! The door to God is open to the sinner as a sinner, and the failing saint as a failing saint.
I know in my own life I may have thought of the door as open at street level for others but never myself. Whenever I was failing in some area of my life I placed the door just a bit higher up, just out of reach. I would convince myself that I need to get a few days sober before I approach God, or in some way make myself a better Christian before I can be accepted. No! Our failures do not disqualify us for the door but rather make our need for him all the more urgent, and his grace all the more abundant. Run to him the moment you fail him and discover that he is everything he promises to be and more.
3. It’s a LOW Door.
In order to pass through we are going to have to bow our heads in repentance (turning away from our old ways and accepting Jesus’ ways). Scripture speaks again and again of “stiff-necked” people whom God cannot use or transform because they are stubborn, self-willed, and full of pride.
If you have come to the door again and again and have left unchanged and unfulfilled, it might be because you came to the door with your own agenda and your own ideas of how this new life is going to look. Remember, our best thinking has gotten us here, to this point of need. All it has done is erect a great big wall. If we are going to pass through this door into life we are going to have to be broken, lower our heads to the dust and trust that the things God requires of us are for our own good and will lead us to wholeness. Everything must change. And that change begins with me as I bow my head and enter.
4. It’s a NARROW Door.
When we arrive at the door we stand there utterly alone, with no room on the left or right of us for anyone else. We cannot wait for nor depend upon our family and friends, our church or pastor, to get us through the door. One day we will all stand before God and give a personal account of our lives and no finger pointing will do (Rom. 14:12).
Nor can we wait for someone else to get right before we do. This drives the co-dependents among us, myself included, crazy. We can’t be the door for others, or wait for them to get through the door before we start taking care of ourselves. If we are going to realize Jesus as the Door and all the blessings that come with it, we will have to trust that He is also the Door for them, but only as they come alone and decide on their own to walk the path Jesus has made.
Thank God for Jesus! The wall between us and God or us and others cannot be scaled on our own by our own power. But thanks be to God for Jesus, who is himself the Door, always open, right where we are, ready to transform us one by one. All that is required of us is that we come to him. Just come. Don’t wait. He’s ready and willing and more than capable of doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.