“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” — Revelation 4:1 (NIV)
In the popular imagination, St. Peter is heaven’s gatekeeper. That imagery serves as the backdrop for some truly hilarious jokes, but Scripture knows nothing of it. Much of the imagery in Revelation may be hard to understand, but there is nothing hard about this verse.
After hearing the voice of Jesus in the first chapter, John turned around and did not see the familiar face and body of the man he had followed in Palestine. The glory he saw caused him to faint at Jesus’ feet. Jesus revived him and dictated letters to seven churches (chapters 2-3). Then John looked up and saw the open door.
Let’s remember that God is the Lord of the universe. John immediately found himself in the throne room. So don’t even think of the door to some low-rent apartment standing open. Think of the most imposing cathedral, palace, or mansion you can imagine. Have you ever seen one of those with the door standing open? John saw the very gate of heaven. He did not see his friend Peter or any other gatekeeper.
Now think of any building on earth, where a lot of public traffic is wanted or needed, one of those big box stores, for example, or a museum, or even a church. How often do the doors stand open? Probably not very often or very long at all. Are they ever locked? Even stores that advertise being open 24/7 will close and lock up on some holidays and for annual building maintenance.
A door standing open invites people to enter. Did John see the door to heaven standing open for him? Or did he see it standing open because it always stands open? Jesus himself is the door (John 10:7, 9). Who can enter heaven? Anyone who wants to go through the open door. Anyone who does not prefer sin to Jesus.
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let those who hear say, “Come!” Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life.” — Revelation 22:17