Lord, Lord, Open Unto Us!
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
Preached in PCC Worship Service, 1 September 2013
Part 2 of 3

In our previous article on Luke 13:22-30, we looked at the context to our Lord’s teaching in this passage on the narrow and soon-to-shut door, and His command to strive to enter in. In this article, we will consider the Lord’s caution and the change that will take place in the future.

The Caution (vv. 25-27)

 “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Lk 13:25-27).

The image or picture is that of a banquet. The master or owner of the house represents Jesus. He had earlier sent out the call and invitation to His banquet. Some heeded His call and came in while the door to the banquet was still open. These represent true believers.

Others received the call but they didn’t take it seriously or they took for granted that the door would always be open to them. These are those who experienced the ministry of Christ but did not respond to it rightly. 

A time comes when it will be too late: when the owner of the house rises up and shuts the door, and locks out those who had not yet come in. These people (and according to verse 24, there will be many of them) will stand outside and knock on the door and saying, “Lord, Lord, open unto us.”

Here is another use of the repeated name or title in the Bible. “Lord, Lord,” they say. These people seek to endear themselves to the master of the house. They call out to Him with deep emotion and passion and seeming familiarity. “Lord, Lord, open to us.” They pleaded with Him not to shut them out of His house but to reopen the door to them.

The master of the house responded to their pleas by saying to them, “I do not know where you are from.” In other words, He will not open the door to them because they are strangers to Him and He does not recognize them.

These people were very surprised and even shocked by the master’s reply. How could He not know or recognize them? This must all be a mistake. And so they went on to say, “We ate with you and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” Now to eat and drink in someone’s presence and to listen to him teach in your streets implies more than just mere acquaintance. These people were claiming that they once knew the Lord and that He knew them too; and thus on account of this past contact and fellowship, He ought to give them entrance into His house.

But the Lord said to them a second time, “I do not know where you are from.” By repeating the exact same words, He was emphatically denying that He ever knew them. But He didn’t stop there. He went on to say, “depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”

So on the one hand, the Lord did not know or recognize these people, but on the other hand, He did know something about them, namely, that they were all workers of iniquity; and thus they have no place in His everlasting kingdom.

It is not that the Lord never met them before or that He could not remember who they were. No, what these people said earlier was in fact true – the Lord did eat with them and drink with them, and teach in their streets. But that is not the same as knowing or having an intimate relationship with them. It is not enough just to have outwardly experienced or tasted or drunk of the Lord’s ministry. One must receive it inwardly and sincerely and by faith. Or as one writer says, “Outward contact with the message and person of Jesus counts for nothing; inward reception is everything.”

This applies not just to those first century Jews who came into contact with Christ and who witnessed first-hand His earthly ministry. It applies to everyone throughout the ages who have had the privilege of attending to the means of grace. It applies to those who have heard the reading and preaching of His word. It applies to those who have been outwardly baptised, and who may even have physically partaken of the Lord’s Supper. It applies to those who have outwardly joined themselves to a true church of Christ. The Lord is warning us not to take these outward privileges for granted and He is warning us not to rest in them. The mere outward use of the means of grace is not to be equated with salvation.

It is interesting that the Lord describes these people who were standing outside the door – these mere outward professors of the faith – as workers of iniquity. Here is a reminder that being physically close to the Lord whether in person or through the means of grace does not cleanse one from his sins and iniquities. If there is no true work of regeneration in the heart and no true faith and repentance as a result of that work, then the person is still lost in his sins and still a stranger to Christ. And if he continues in such a state until the end of his life, then on the final Day of Judgment, he will find himself standing with a whole multitude of would-be Christians outside the door of the everlasting kingdom.

There, they would be knocking on the door and pleading with the Lord Jesus to open it unto them but to no avail. The door will remain firmly shut, and the only response they will get is the awful rebuke of the Lord, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”

This leads us then to the final section of our text from verses 28-30, which I’ve called, “The Change” or “The Reversal.”

The Change (vv. 28-30)

We read in verse 28 and following, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.”

Having been refused entry at the door of the kingdom, not once but twice, these multitudes of people outside are reduced to weeping and gnashing of teeth – a truly pitiful and painful and even frightening picture. Weeping speaks of great sorrow and remorse. They are not just shedding a tear or two but they are howling and wailing and crying and openly lamenting their exclusion from the kingdom. But sorrow is not their only response.

The next phrase “gnashing of teeth” speaks of great anger and unmitigated rage. They gnash or grind their teeth at the master of the house for shutting them out. They hate him with every fibre of their being. This overwhelming sense of disappointment and frustration leads to intense sorrow and anger.

And as if this were not enough, the Lord tells us that they are allowed to catch a glimpse of what goes on inside the house and they are able to see what they are being excluded from. Somehow, a window opens to them and they see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets inside.

Now understand the significance of this: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are the patriarchs or fathers of the faith. They are the ones whom God made a gracious covenant with and they will dwell in the presence of God forever – they and all their true descendants. And so for a person to be shut out while the fathers of the faith are inside can only mean that one does not share the same faith as them and is thus not a true member of the covenant.

Then besides the Patriarchs, these people also catch a glimpse of all the prophets who have gone in. These are the servants of the Lord who had been sent at various times to preach the Word of God to the people of God, and to show them the way that leads to life.  

For a person to be shut out while all the prophets are inside can only mean that one did not rightly receive and respond to the word of the living God. The sight of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets of old inside the kingdom of God would only intensify the pain and agony of those standing outside.

But their pain and agony does not end there, for the Lord goes on to say in verse 29 that in addition to seeing the fathers and the prophets, they will also see men from the east, the west, the north and the south sitting at the table in the kingdom of God. Who are these men? Well, quite clearly, the Lord is referring to the Gentiles or those outside the borders of Israel. They will come from different places and countries, even from the uttermost parts of the earth. And in stark contrast to those standing outside the door, these Gentiles will sit down at the blessed banqueting table together with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets.

These are the very ones whom the Jews despised and abhorred and looked down upon. The Jews considered sitting at the dining table and having a meal with a Gentile to be an abominable thing. No Jew in his right mind would want to do that.

And so to see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the men who were the very definition of what it meant to be Jewish – sitting at the table with Gentiles from all over the world was painful. Indeed, it would have been bad enough if they were at the table and had to share it with the Gentiles. But to see the Gentiles in the kingdom of God while they themselves thrust out and excluded was utterly unbearable and terrible beyond description. What a terrible change and reversal from everything that they had been taught by the scribes and Pharisees and everything they had been accustomed to from young.

The Lord then ends this section with the words, “And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” This statement sums up very well the great reversal that will take place at the end of time. On the one hand, there are those who may appear to be very close to the kingdom but who end up far way. On the other hand, there are those who appear to be very distant but who end up very near.

Jesus, of course, is not saying that all the Jews will be excluded or all the Gentiles will be included. There will be some Jews who will be saved and other Gentiles who will not be saved. But what He is saying is that a great change or reversal will take place and that there will be many surprises in the final membership of the kingdom.   

…to be continued, next Issue

—Linus Chua