A preacher, a missionary and an elderly woman arrived at the pearly gates of Heaven. To their surprise, they did not find the apostle Peter there, but another gatekeeper. Though the heavenly being was different, the question was one that they all had anticipated and were eager to answer: “Why should I allow you to enter Heaven?” The preacher replied, “Well, I was in the ministry more than forty years; I planted churches, evangelized and wrote many books and pamphlets.” The heavenly gatekeeper then asked, “Yes, but do you know Jesus?” Somewhat irritated, the minister answered, “Would I have done all these things if I had not known Him?” The gatekeeper then asked the missionary, “Why should I allow you to enter Heaven?” The missionary sighed, “I worked among a Stone Age tribe for years. Through my ministry, the whole tribe was converted. I taught the people to read, did translation work, and treated their sick.” “Yes, but do you know Jesus?” The missionary replied adamantly, “Could anyone have achieved this without knowing Him?” Finally, the gatekeeper posed the same question to the woman: “Why should I allow you to enter Heaven?” Her achievements were not that impressive. She went to church, read her Bible, prayed and helped in her own little way wherever she could. “Do you know Jesus?” the gatekeeper asked at last. Suddenly, a radiant smile flashed across her face: “Yes, of course, Lord! I recognized you right away!”
At the very least, this fictitious story does make us think. While getting lost in doing many good works is entirely possible, they should spring forth from a true and deep knowledge of God. In John 6:44-45, Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall be all taught of God.” Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”
Hosea said that God “…desired…the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (6:6). Jeremiah writes, “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”(31:34)
Paul apparently thought it was important when he penned, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil. 3:8). Jesus rebuked the lawyers when he stated, “Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (Luke 11:52). If a knowledge of the truth will set us free (John 8:32), and Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), then a knowledge of Jesus Christ is imperative!
However, there is another aspect. The final question is so important—“Does Jesus know us?”
Matthew records His sobering words: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (7:21-23)
To go through life thinking that we are in a right relationship with Jesus Christ, and then to hear the words, “I never knew you” is a frightening thought. The Hebraistic usage of the word “knew” has the sense of approval and of knowledge favorable to the person in question. More important than the question, “Do we know Jesus?” is the question, “Does Jesus know us?”!