Imagine getting an invitation to dine with a celebrity, like your favorite recording artist, actor or author. What if your nation’s leader invited you to the capitol to have lunch? What an honor to be invited by the queen (if you live in the U.K.), or the president (if you live in the U.S.A.), or the Prime Minister (if you reside in Canada).
Sharing a meal conveys the idea of personal fellowship. In Bible times dining together had a strong association with hospitality, protection, peace and sharing. Some cultures still make a priority of fellowshiping around a shared meal.
In Revelation 3:20, Christ gives this timeless invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
This verse is often quoted as a gospel invitation. Due to Adam’s sin and our own waywardness, we desperately need a pardon (Rom. 3:23; 5:12; 6:23). Apart from God’s rescue we are lost. Yet, the Son of God came to deliver us. Jesus declared, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Therefore, Christ’s invitation is relevant for those who have not yet come to God for salvation. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” If Christ is not in you, heed life’s most important invitation today! (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 John 5:9-12).
We can also observe a more precise application of Revelation 3:20 for believers. The ascended Christ was speaking to His church in the seven locations addressed in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation. Therefore, Christ is also speaking to those who have been reconciled to God when He offers this invitation. He is “standing at the door,” knocking.
How can Christ be outside of “the door” of believers if they are already indwelt by His Spirit? We have a clue to this usage in Ephesians 3:17: “[I pray] that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith …” Scripture assures those who are saved that they have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, Who conveys the life of Christ (1 Cor. 6:17; Col. 1:17). So then, what is the goal of Paul’s intercession here? His desire would be that the Christ who has come into our spirit (through the new birth) would also dwell (fully demonstrate His presence) in our soul (our mind, will and emotions). Someone put it this way: Christ is resident in you, but is He president in you?
Picture, then, the door of Revelation 3:20 as separating your spirit from your soul (Heb. 4:12). If we grieve or quench the Spirit of God by unbelief or independence, we are missing out on God’s fullness (Eph. 4:30).
Your Lord and Savior bids you to “open the door” of your heart so that you and He can have personal, one-to-one, intimate fellowship. What a privilege! You are eligible for this royal opportunity by the matchless grace of God. As a believer in Christ, you are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.. 1:6). With sin confessed and will surrendered, we are bidden to enjoy His presence by faith (Heb. 10:19-23; 13:5).
In John 21, Christ appeared to John (the human author of Revelation) and the other ten disciples at the Sea of Galilee. They had joined Peter in an impromptu fishing venture while they waited and hoped for another post-resurrection appearance of the Lord: “But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish…. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’ Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are You?’–knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish” (John 21:4-13).
What a special time this was with the risen Christ–here at the same lake where he had called James and John, Peter and Andrew into full time discipleship (Matt. 4:18-22). Although He would ascend to heaven in a few days, they treasured every moment of renewed fellowship with their master and friend. Even though we were not there that morning, we are extended this same invitation today.
My wife, Linda and I fondly remember the year we met in a Christian music group. The fourteen of us traveled through the U.S., Canada, and Europe giving concerts. What a great opportunity for personal growth and fellowship with our group members and the host Christians where we traveled. The Internationals had a unique way of getting ready to give thanks when our dinner was prepared. We sang a joyful rendition of “Come and Dine.” Here are the lyrics:
Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
O ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”:
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”
The disciples came to land,
Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called unto them, “Come and dine”;
There they found their heart’s desire,
Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry every time.
Soon the Lamb will take His bride
To be ever at His side,
All the host of Heaven will assembled be;
O ’twill be a glorious sight,
All the saints in spotless white;
And with Jesus they will feast eternally.
And now you can let the message of this song resonate in your heart. Open the door of your soul and welcome Christ Who graciously offers you His continual fellowship. Come and dine!
“Come and Dine.” Words and music by Charles B. Widmeyer, 1906; Widmeyer wrote the song to go with a sermon he was preparing on John 21:12. (CyberHymnal.org)
Copyright 2006 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations are from the NKJV.