Friday, July 21, 2017

Door into heaven

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens…7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture (Jn 10:1-3,9).

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut (Rev 3:7-8).

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said,“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Rev 4:1). 

i) A neglected line of evidence for the common authorship of John's Gospel and Revelation is the door motif. In both documents, Jesus functions as the doorway to heaven.

It might be objected that in Jn 10, Jesus is the door, whereas in Rev 3:8, is distinct from the door. However, the metaphor is flexible. Jn 10 alternates between the door and the doorkeeper. Rev 3:7-8 has the same alternation. To say Jesus is the door or Jesus has the key are variations on the same metaphor. 

ii) A door is a screening device, allowing authorized individuals to enter while disallowing unauthorized individuals from entering. Jesus is the way to salvation. But because Jesus is the only way to salvation, he is simultaneously an entrance and a barrier. A person can only enter through him.  

iii) The image of a door between this world and the world to come is simple yet arresting. In this life, heaven seems far away. We can't see it or touch it. We can't hear the saints and angels on the other side. Yet in reality, it's as if there's an invisible door connecting our world to the world to come. A door that becomes visible at the moment of death. It was there all along. We just don't know where to look. And the door is locked until the moment of death. By passing through the door, we leave this world behind.  

iv) A door demarcates the outside from the inside. In addition, it may be dark outside, but light inside. When the door is open, you walk into the light. Moreover, the light guides you to the door. If it's dark outside, and the door is closed, the door is invisible. If the door is opened, it suddenly becomes visible.

v) In Jn 10 and Rev 3:7-10,20, the door is a metaphor. But in Rev 4:1, the door is a simulation rather than a metaphor. John has a vision of a door, and passes through the visionary door. His experience is a sample of what Jesus promised to the beleaguered Philadelphian Christians. 

Although the door is imaginary or figurative, it's possible, if God so wills, for a dying Christian to experience death as seeing an open door, approaching the door, and passing through the door into the light beyond–just as John did in his vision. The body dies, releasing the soul. 

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