Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets…
What is the deepest thought in every bosom? Money? No. Rising in the world? No. Pleasure? No. Ease and comfort? No. Health? No. Long life? No. It is that they may at last "enter in through the gates into the city."
I. THE CONDITION OF ENTERING THE HEAVENLY CITY. The doing His — Christ's — commandments. Is salvation earned, then, by our works? Thank God, no. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done," etc. Yet it is expressly said here that those who "do His commandments have a right," etc. The key to this is found in St. James. A man is justified "by works and not by faith only." Faith is another word for love. It means in Scripture as in common life — trust, confidence — and this trust and confidence are, in religion, the outcome of love. But what will not love do for its loved one? Love is the surrender of the whole man to its object — the will, heart, life. Works are the evidences of it; its necessary results. Works do not save us, but we cannot be saved without them.
II. THE SECURITY OF THOSE WHO FULFIL THAT CONDITION. They have a right.
1. By the merit of their works? Nay, verily. Best men most conscious of shortcoming. As the morning star is black when it passes over the disk of the sun, so the holiness of the best of men is only darkness when seen in the splendour of the holiness of God.
2. But as a proof of their sincerity. That shown, the perfect merits of Christ are theirs. The right is that of Christ, transferred to them, as His. "We are made the righteousness of God in Him."
III. SOME REFLECTIONS AND CAUTIONS.
1. Twelve gates, facing all sides. Christianity is a religion for all mankind. The gates of heaven face us wherever we may be.
2. I must enter through the gate. No other name but the name of Christ.
3. Those who do so are "blessed."(1) They are blessed. In the formation of a heavenly character. The perfect peace of a heart raised above passing disturbance.
(2) They will be blessed in their destiny. "Beloved, now are ye sons," etc. Heaven entering us, before we, it.
4. To enter, we must hold out to the end.
(1) Only safe when we have finished our course. The Eurydice sank within a few yards of shore.
(2) No reward till the work is done. Bunyan has a trap-door close to the gate of heaven.
(J. Cunningham Geikie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.