Front-door, Juniper-Street Memory

Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 12, 2019

vintage picture welcomed us when we opened an old Bible we read from at night in our simple Juniper-Street home back in the 60s. I remember the image almost as if I had opened it every day since that time: There is Jesus, standing on some obscure porch, the light of his presence shining brightly all around.

That light shined upon a closed door — and a small, rusted, iron-grill up high on the door revealed a dark room inside. Around the porch — and I do not remember noticing this scene until I revisited it recently — rank weeds and plants lurk, a curious flare to the painting from the early twentieth-century artist Warner Sallman.

I came across that picture after all of these years as I’ve come in our work to another vintage work, the writings of Revelation. Near the end of that book’s third chapter – before the symbols take a turn for the inexplicable – the Lord, speaking, gives one of the most simple, down-home illustrations, saying, “Behold I stand at the door and knock …”

It always seemed to be a little bit of a lonely verse – and picture, too, I guess – as Jesus stands, all alone, knocking in a quiet night. The beauty of the scene is that the thorny vines and weeds that surround the porch, the obstinately closed door, nor the bitter darkness within keep the Master away. For this door – as we well know – stands for the heart of every man or woman, regardless of race, creed, age, or condition. A man cannot move to such a wretched part of life that the Lord cannot find that door. Where there is a glimmer of light, a bit of hope, he comes.

But he not only comes, he comes and stands. He comes to stay—not to knock and quickly hurry off, as we may do – and He is always ready and willing to enter into that closed door and bring with him the light of life.

He comes, stands, knocks, and implores.

Perhaps the most vivid image blazoned in my mind is that on the outside of that door there is no knob for opening. The Lord cannot open the door from the outside; and to pry it open, He will not do.

More than half a century has passed since our family gathered to read from that old Bible at the close of a day. I do not know that I had seen that Bible’s opening picture since those old, nostalgic Juniper-Street days. But when I found it the other day, I was pleased at what I saw. I can’t help but smile at the thought: There was Jesus, still standing, patient as before, knocking at the door.