Have you ever watched from a window, waiting for an important visitor? You felt your heart beat faster with anticipation at the sound of each approaching car, thinking maybe this is the one! Do you remember waiting for a girlfriend or a boyfriend, almost jumping out of your chair when the doorbell rang? Have you ever anticipated a visitor only to open the door and find no one there or someone other than the person you were expecting? Have you ever waited for a special telephone call, only to answer the phone and find that the call was not for you?
At Passover in most Jewish homes in cities around the world, a cup of wine is set at the Passover supper table awaiting only the lips of the prophet Elijah the Tishbite. Jewish families open their doors at the close of the seder meal in hopeful expectance of this prophet who is to herald the coming of the Messiah.
Year after year they repeat this ritual because, according to the prophet Malachi, Elijah will be a forerunner of the Messiah: Behold, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5).
In my home, a Reform Jewish household, my parents always put Elijah’s cup by the door instead of on the table (perhaps to make it easier for Elijah?). At the end of the Passover seder I was always the one who would run to the door and open it. I expected to see Elijah walk in, hold the cup aloft, and announce: “Behold, the Messiah has come!” And then I imagined the Messiah would book passage for all of us on El Al Airlines and provide hotel accommodations at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem!
Of course every year I stared into an empty doorway. Most children reach an age when they become disillusioned with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but I always held this half-expectancy to see Elijah descending on our doorstep. Trudging back to the table, I would take my seat and my family would say together “L’shanah Habaah BiYerushalayim” (“Next year in Jerusalem”).
Years have passed since those days. I have since opened the door of my heart to find Yeshua, the Messiah—not merely his forerunner—and I have invited him in.
I remember one recent Jews for Jesus Passover tour, when I stood before a certain church congregation to explain the christological symbolism of the Passover Seder. I told the story of the empty doorway. As I spoke, I noticed tears flowing from the eyes of a man in the back of the congregation. He came to talk to me after the presentation. Though he was not himself Jewish by birth, Robert (not his real name) had converted to Judaism years earlier and had married a young Jewish attorney like himself.
They planned on establishing a Jewish household and starting a law firm together. But trouble came when the young wife came to believe in the Messiah. For years the pastor had met with Robert, trying to explain the truth about Jesus, but Robert said he needed more proof.
That morning, as I told the story of the empty doorway, Robert’s heart broke. As we talked after the service, he told me he knew Jesus had to be the Messiah. The symbols in the Passover supper were too clear. It all made too much sense not to be true. But most important, Robert described how he saw in his mind’s eye that the door of his wife’s heart had been opened, whereas he had heard a knock at his door and had refused to open it for fear that he would find, not Elijah, but Yeshua!
“Robert,” I asked him in the back pews of the now empty church, “why don’t you pray with me now, and finally open the door of your heart to Yeshua?”
“What do I say? How do I do it?” he responded.
“Say the prayer with me; say it to God…” I led him in a confession of sin, faith in Yeshua’s atoning work on the cross and commitment to him as Lord and Savior. At last Robert had opened the door.
This Passover millions of Jewish people will still be peering through empty doorways into quiet, empty streets. Do you love Jesus and want to serve him? Do you love the Jewish people because you know God loves them? Do you know of a Jewish person, a friend, a co-worker with whom you can share the important news that Messiah has come, and his name is Yeshua? Are you willing to pray for God to provide you with such an opportunity? You could be the one to knock on a Jewish door—for Jesus!