"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will open the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me."

Sometimes people who have gone to church for a long time and are looked upon as stable Christians have actually missed an elementary step in the life of faith. Because they feel obliged to live up to their reputation in the eyes of others, they are afraid to admit this inner lack even to themselves. The pastor never seems to notice it. He just assumes that everything is solid with them ..... but it's not.

Every once-in-a-while someone who has been in the church for years will come out and say in desperation,

"But I don't know how to turn myself over to Jesus Christ."

....something they should have done long ago.

When Jesus enters Jerusalem for that final Passover, it looks as if Jerusalem is really receiving its Messiah.   But are they really about to put him on the throne?  No, they will soon be nailing him to a cross.  That Palm Sunday welcome was as brief as a flash of lightning.

I want to talk about the most elementary step in becoming a follower of Jesus... the step that so often looks as if it has been taken when it hasn't. I want to talk about receiving Jesus Christ into your life.

There are many people who admire Jesus.

"There was a great man!" they say, "No wonder he changed the course of history. If only his followers lived like he lived."

You can admire Jesus Christ all your life...admiration for Jesus will never change the way you live.

There are those who say they believe in Jesus Christ. Every time someone from the Gallup Poll comes around to take a sample of Jesus' popularity for the media,

"Sure I believe in Jesus Christ!  You bet!"

They send their children to Sunday School and do all the things respectable Christian people are supposed to do. But when they say they believe in Jesus, they believe in Jesus like people believe in motherhood. Jesus isn't a person that they know. He's a symbol.

Jesus himself makes clear that if you really want to know him you must do more than admire him from a distance, or believe in him from a distance. The distance between you and Jesus must be wiped away. You must receive him. He has to enter into your heart and life.

"As many as received him….to them he gave power to become sons and daughters of God."

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in...."

There are two kinds of people. First, there are those who have Christ living within them.

- You opened the door and he entered your life.

- His presence in you is transforming you into a different person.

- You listen to what he has to tell you and you tell him what's on your heart.

- You draw your strength from him. When you say, "Jesus," you're not just uttering the name of the "greatest man that ever lived," you are speaking the name of God the Son, who lives in you.

- You know him personally.

- You obey him as your Lord.

Then there are those who have not received Christ. He may be standing at the door of your heart.

You may feel the divine knocking vibrating throughout your being.

- You may hear his voice.

...But inside you, there is no Christ.

There is just you. There is no divine voice saying,

"This is the way, walk in it."

- No light swallowing up that inner darkness.

- No power driving you forth to conquer evil.

You're in there alone, mumbling to yourself. Worrying. Scheming. Trying to be happy. You may be an expert on where to locate in the Bible every word Jesus spoke. But if Jesus is not alive within your own heart, you are still dead in your sins. And you will die in your sins unless you open the door and actually receive Jesus Christ.

Of course, there are obstacles which keep us from taking the simple step of receiving Jesus into our hearts...spiritual blocks which seem to keep getting in the way.

In men it is often male vanity.

In women it is often maternalism.

To some men, the thought of having the Son of God move in and take over his life disturbs their vanity. They think it makes them look weak. Every man has in him a little of Fred Flintstone. He likes to be the aggressor, the strong guy. Okay, so he’s the head of his home, the captain of his ship, the leader. But men have to learn that they are not little gods. You are not self-sufficient. You are not omnipotent. You may have conquered your wife, (or think you did), but there are certain things in this world that are going to conquer you no matter how big and tough and smart you are. One of them is death. Interesting, isn't it, that women live longer than men.

It really struck me as I stood by the sickbed of my father the last day of his life on earth. His spirit was still strong and his mind clear....But he was being overcome by something no man can cope with. And I remember how as a little child I looked up to him as the strongest guy in the world. He dealt with problems and crises all through life like a man. Now he was being overcome by the enemy that will one day conquer us all.

And how does a man die like a man? By fighting death? A man dies like a man by submitting to death. By receiving it. By letting death come in, as God brings us to the threshold of another World.

So when a man receives Christ there is nothing weak about it. You die to the flesh and come alive to God. No man is really a man until he has the Spirit of the Son of God in him, making him a man.

Many women have a block which hinders them from receiving Christ: Maternalism. They want to be Christ's mother rather than his servant. Remember how Jesus treated his own mother? Even at his bar mitzvah at the age of twelve, we see him pulling away.

"How is it that you sought me? Didn't you know that I'd be in my Father's house?"

From the moment his ministry began until he was nailed to the cross, Jesus never gave Mary a chance to mother him. "Woman." That is how he addressed her. "Woman."

Mary submitted to him...submitted until she received the Spirit of Christ back into her very body ... not as her child, but as her God!

Women have a gift of receiving. It is part of their nature to receive the wounded, the brokenhearted, the lonely. This is why a woman makes a home a home. She is the spirit of hospitality and tenderness. But woman, when you receive Christ, he will enter your life only if you receive him as God. Remember Mary Magdalene's exclamation in the garden,

"Raaboni!" Which means, "My Lord!"   

Whether you are a man or woman, there are two steps to receiving Christ into your life. The first is to open the door and let him in. Jerusalem was better at that than most people today, Jerusalem opened the door.

"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Welcome!"

Would Detroit, New York, Baltimore welcome Jesus? He wouldn't even be noticed, except perhaps with an angry shout;

"Get your confounded donkey off the expressway! Traffic's heavy today!"

What about you? Do you welcome him? He's knocking. He's calling you by name.

"Child, open to me. Let me into your life."

And what do you answer?

"I'm busy ... come back tomorrow ... I don't need you right now ... I can't let you in. I have other plans."

Have you ever fallen to your knees and said,

"Lord, come into my life! Make your dwelling within me!"?

Jesus will not open the door. You have to open the door. Many people hope that some day when they're sitting in church they will be hit with 'religion'. Suddenly Christ will just rush in and take over their lives. It does not work that way. Christ will knock.

- He will call.

- He will warn and exhort.

But he won't enter you until you say,

"Come in! Welcome! Hosanna to the Son of David!"

The door of course is pride. That's what stands between you and Christ.

…Remove that pride.

…Humble yourself.

If you are afraid to humble yourself and fall on your knees in the assembly, cry out to him alone in your house. Find a room where you can shut the door behind you. Fall down and ask Jesus Christ to enter you.

He will .... and you will know that he has come to you.

But there is another step. After Christ has come into your life you must let him have the chair at the head of the table.

"I will come in and eat with him and he with me."

This is where Jerusalem failed. They let him in but they did not give him the honored place as God.

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. And they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes, have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast brought forth perfect praise?'" And he left them and went out of their city.

He left them and went out of their city ... and he never again spent a night of rest there. And he never will stay in Jerusalem again until the day that Jerusalem gives him the place of authority .... at the head of the table .... the day when he returns in glory.

Many people want Jesus to come in.

"Jesus, come into my life."

But they don't want him to be King. They won't give him control. They want Jesus to be their friend and helper but not their God. The minute Jesus starts calling for changes in the way they live, the second he begins to assert his lordship they do exactly what Jerusalem did...... they crucify him.

If there was a time when you knelt down and said,

"Lord, come in!"

and he came ... but then you lost him again ... you lost him because you did not submit to him as Lord. You said,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!"

but you did not let him rule you.

Jesus doesn't come into your life to be your "buddy". He comes to be your God. He comes to save, transform, to send you out on divine business every day of your life.

The question is not,

do you believe in Jesus Christ with your lips and with your mind?

The question is,

does Jesus Christ live in you?

Is Jesus Christ in charge of your life, ruling you from within?

If he is, do what he says. And when he sends you forth to make disciples, as he surely will, obey him.

On the other hand, if you are still sitting alone at the table in your inmost heart...if Jesus Christ is not communing with your spirit at this moment, you can be sure of this:

- He is not far away.

- He is at the door.

- If you listen, you will hear his knock.

- If you become completely still, you will hear his voice.

- If you want to, you can open the door and he will come in.

- You can give him the chair at the head of the table and he will sit down and be your Lord and your God forever.

Before you put this paper away, why not get alone with him right now, fall on your knees, and open the door.