It was Christmas Eve. A friend came to the house to collect a gift that she had hidden there. Having forgotten her key, she knocked on the door; she phoned; she sent an email; she sent text messages. But I was oblivious. I was in the basement, involved in a Christmas movie. My phone was on the second floor. And I couldn’t hear the knock on the door.

Finally, I took a break to make a cup of tea. As I filled the kettle, I heard the insistent knock on the door to the garage. Without hesitation, I opened the door.

Many of us are distracted by what is going on around us or isolated by our own thoughts and pursuits. There are many reasons for not hearing or even ignoring the knock on the door.

We are at the beginning of a new year, and emotions are turbulent. We are hoping for a new scenario, a return to “normal,” whatever that is, but we superstitiously knock on wood. We make resolutions, turn over new leaves, kick start a physical fitness routine. In the meantime, we are missing, or ignoring, the knock on the door.

Jesus’ friend Martha was what we might call hyperactive or a Type 1 personality. She had plans, good plans, and she knew how to carry them out. But she really could use a bit of help! “Lord, tell Mary to come and help me get dinner on the table,” she whined. But Jesus had knocked on the door of Mary’s heart. Mary had invited him in. Mary loved to listen to his words and to think about them later. Much like his mother Mary had pondered the things she did not quite understand about her extraordinary son. Jesus had won entrance to Mary’s heart and life and he would not devalue that.

Jesus also told a story about a neighbor who knocked on the door urgently in the middle of the night. It may have started as his friend honestly was asleep and honestly did not hear the knock. But then it became laziness, not wanting to get out of bed, pretending concern for the rest of the family. He told his neighbor to go away. Come back tomorrow. I will give you what you want then. But his friend wasn’t talking about “wants.” The traveler had come to his door with “needs.” He needed shelter. He needed food. It could not wait. So the sleepy man came and opened the door.

In the Bible, Jesus is portrayed as both the Door and the Knocker. He said that he is the door of the sheepfold, the kingdom of God, the place of safety and provision. Those who are lost in the storms of life, who have lost meaning and purpose, who think that nothing makes sense anymore, must come to him and seek admittance. But in case they can’t find the door, he is the shepherd who goes out into the storm, onto the cliffs and through rushing waters to find his sheep. And he brings them home.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the last book in the New Testament. In chapter 3 verse 20, Jesus says: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, whose birth in Bethlehem we are celebrating even in 2022, is knocking at the door of every single person who is living. He has knocked at billions of hearts that are no longer living. Many of them answered the door and invited their Messiah in and found that he was the host of the banquet. If you do not know Jesus, pause to listen for the knock on your heart’s door. You can ask who is there. Jesus, if you are really alive and want to help me, please come in. He never rejects an invitation.

Louise Parsons is a member of Brook Hill United Methodist Church. She grew up in Pennsylvania but spent most of her adult life with her husband and family in Africa. She is a mother, grandmother and nurse who loves reading, needlework and spending time outdoors.

(3) comments


Now that’s a refreshingly unorthodox interpretation of the Parable of the Importunate Neighbor. The standard understanding is that one should keep praying even when prayer has been ineffectual. Sooner or later Jesus will respond, goes the thinking. To suggest that Jesus is the one knocking is almost heretical. I like the original thinking. And the writer is fortunate to live in a time and place where uttering her views won’t result in punishment.


“In chapter 3 verse 20, Jesus says: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” “Heretical?” How?


What you are quoting is not from the Parable of the Importunate Neighbor. Different story, different meaning.

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