The Door Leading to Mount Zion

I hope you’re having a blessed Easter and enjoying this time in remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus. Today I thought I’d present a small portion of John Bunyan‘s classic tale, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and hope you enjoy either the reminder or will take it as an incentive to read the most epic version of what it means to walk as a true Christian in this world. -The Castle Lady
(Christian has approached the gate leading on to Mount Zion.)
Now, over the gate there was written this promise: “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Therefore he knocked boldly, and that more than just once or twice, saying:


“May I now enter here? Will he within
open to sorry me, though I have been
an undeserving rebel? If so, then shall I
Not fail to sing his lasting praise on High.”
While he awaited the keeper of the gate, he noticed that the door was curiously marred by many scars. He observed further that there were smoke stains on the stone arch over the door. He saw also the broken shafts and charred feathers from many arrows littering the ground. “Hmmm,” said he with furrowed brow. “If I do not miss my guess, I would say that this gate has withstood more than just a simple siege or two.”
Soon there came a grave person to the gate named Goodwill, who asked, “Who knocks there?”
“A poor burdened sinner,” replied Christian, “fleeing unto Mount Zion from the City of Destruction.”
With that, the gate was thrown open and Christian was so quickly snatched within by two powerful hands that he nearly went sprawling headlong upon the ground. Before Christian could even regain his balance, the door had been speedily shut fast and securely barred behind him. Then Christian, a bit dazed by such hasty behavior, said, “Dear, sir, what was the reason for giving me such a violent jerk?”
Then answered Goodwill, wiping a bead of sweat from his brow, “Did you not notice the scars and burns on our little wicket gate?”
“And did you chance to hear all the zinging and thumping sounds as I was shutting the door?”
“Yes. I think I did. What were they?”
“Open the door a little and take a peek out to see what they were.”
So Christian loosed the bars, cautiously opened the door just a tiny crack and there, stuck fast in the wood about the door, were several burning arrows!”
“Oh my! Fiery darts!”
“Aye. Flaming arrows.”
“Stabbed into the door!”
“And for whom were these messengers of death sent?”
“For you, dear traveler,” said Goodwill gravely. “For you.”
“Whence came they?”
Goodwill pointed through the crack at an imposing castle looking large in the shadows of the misty forest, saying, “Look! Across the way!”
So Christian cracked the door just a bit wider and peeked out.
“I see a castle hidden in the trees. It has great iron gates and it flies the black banner. And it seems, sir, that it is not very far off from the wicket gate you keep.
Within a bowshot, I should guess.”
bunyan-pilgrims-progress-grangerWhile these words were still upon his lips a flaming arrow went zinging (ssffssst!) over his head and buried its smoking shaft in the flower bed behind him. Quickly slamming the door, Christian leaned his burden back against it and swallowing hard said, “I say! This pilgrimage business is dreadfully dangerous stuff, isn’t it?”
“Aye,” agreed the gatekeeper. “Life and death stuff.”
“But who would want to kill a simple pilgrim like me?” he asked incredulously. Then Goodwill answered saying,
“Open the door a wee crack and look out again. But not so wide!”
And so Christian obeyed and with the utmost caution peeked him out through a tiny sliver of light. Then said Goodwill, “Can you see the dark castle?”
“Aye,” answered Christian. “To whom does it belong?”
“‘Tis the castle of the enemy, of which Beelzebub himself is the captain.”
“It is ?”
“Aye. And from its walls he and they that be with him, shoot arrows at those that come up to this gate, hoping to kill them before they enter in.”
“But I am new upon this journey,” said Christian. “Why would he want to destroy me? Surely I am no threat to him!”
“Nay, but you are!” declared Goodwill. “The greatest of God’s warriors began just as you have done. And since the evil one has no way of knowing what God’s grace may make of you, he tries to nip you in the bud. Besides, it is a principle of the dark kingdom that none shall leave its service without encountering trials, tribulations and death at every step.”
“Then I have great cause to rejoice and tremble!” said Christian thankfully.
“Aye, indeed you have,” said Goodwill as he bolted the door fast. “But tell me, how is it that you came all alone?”
Then Christian bowed his head in sadness and answered softly, “Because none of my family or neighbors saw their danger, as I saw mine.”
“Did any of them know you were coming?”
“Oh yes! Almost the entire town saw me go.”
“Then I am surprised that no one followed after to persuade you to go back.”
“Oh, some did. Both Obstinate and Pliable came running after me. But when they saw that they could not change my mind, Obstinate went stomping back.”
“As the name, so the man. And Pliable?”
“Well, ” explained Christian with a note of sadness to his voice, “Pliable was happy enough to come along with me, until we carelessly fell into the Slough of Despond.”
“Ah. You must have taken your eyes off the light.”
“Aye. So we did,” admitted Christian.
“What then?”
“Well, for a short time we tried to press forward. But as soon as the muck got past our waists, he became discouraged and refused to venture farther.”
“Ah, alas, poor man! Was not the celestial glory precious enough to brave a few difficulties?”
“Truly, if the truth be known, I am no better than he.”
“Why do you say that? Did not he run back? And did not you come straight on?”
“‘Tis true,” agreed Christian, with his head hung down. “He went on back to Destruction, but I also turned aside back into the way of death.”
“Ah. Up to the town of Morality no doubt.”
“Uh huh,” said Goodwill angrily. “Directed thereto by the carnal arguments of one Mr. Worldly-wiseman, I suppose.”
“Yes, but how did you know?”
“Because this wicked fellow attacks nearly everyone with his fleshly reasoning. And frankly, there are few that escape his snare.”
“Ah, then I have more reason than ever to be thankful to my Lord,” said Christian with a sigh of relief.
“More than you know. And I suppose he was going to have you seek for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality or one of his base-born sons?”
“Aye. Their names were Civility and Psychology.”
“Pah! Nothing but cheats the lot of them!” said he with righteous indignation. “But go on. Did you truly take his vile counsel?”
“Yes,” admitted Christian. “At least as far as I dared. For I was nearly crushed by the overhang of that fearful mountain.”
“That mountain will be the death of all who try to enter in by the works of their own hands,” affirmed Goodwill. “Frankly, I am amazed that you escaped being ground to powder!”
“Yea,” agreed Christian gratefully. “It is amazing! Thanks be to God! But now here I am, more deserving of death on the horns of Sinai than to be here talking with you, my lord. Oh, what a blessed privilege! That one so faithless as I should still be allowed within these wondrous walls!”
“No need for surprise on that account, dear Christian. We have no restrictions against any who would enter this place.”
“Against none?”
Against none! No matter what they may have done before coming here, no one is shut out.”
“Thank God!”
“Yes,” smiled Goodwill. “For everything! But come now, good Christian. Walk with me a little way and I will teach you about the way you must go.”
So he took him to the edge of the compound and pointing to a small, little-trod path said, “Here, look…straight before you. Do you see that little path?”
“That is the way you must go.”
Christian looked up along the way and then turned to Goodwill saying, “‘Tis a bit narrow, don’t you think?”
To this, Goodwill only smiled and said, “This path through the wilderness of this world was carved out by the patriarchs, the prophets, Christ, and His apostles.”
“But it is so narrow.”
“You’re only passing through, dear Christian. And besides, it was wide enough for Christ.”
“Then, I suppose it must be wide enough for me!” said Christian decidedly.
“It is!” answered Goodwill confidently. “Wide enough for anyone! And with room to spare!”
“Has it a name?”
“Aye. It is called by our Lord the ‘Straight Way’ and He laid it out using the survey instruments of heaven itself. This is the way you must go.”
“But is it easy to follow?” asked Christian, fearful of getting off the path again. “Are there any turnings or windings wherein a stranger may lose his way?”
“Nay, none. But, beware, for there are many ways that come down and intersect with with this one.”
“Then might I not become confused?”
“Nay, fear not,” Goodwill continued calmly. “They are easy to detect, for they are all broad and easy of travel.
Only the right way is straight and narrow. You may also detect them because only the right one ascends upwards.”
“Ah,” said Christian, breathing a sigh of relief. “Then ‘the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein!'”
“None need err,” smiled Goodwill. “All who are willing to do His will shall know the right way. Now, ’tis time to be off on your journey.”
“Uh, one thing more, dear Goodwill.”
“Can you cut this burden off my back?” begged Christian. “I cannot do it myself and back home no one else could even see it. Can you see it?”
“Oh, aye. See it I can. Very well indeed. And a very dark and grievous one it is too!”
“Then, can you help me?”
“No, dear Christian. The place of beginnings is not the place of deliverance.
You must be content to bear it until you come to a sacred hill, where it will fall from your back of its own accord.”
“When shall this be?” sighed Christian longingly. “When?”
“Sooner than you think and longer than you wish,” was the wise reply. “Only be content with your Lord’s timing.”


About Evelyn

The Castle Lady Official web site: other blogs:
This entry was posted in Lest we forget, Life as poetry, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Door Leading to Mount Zion

  1. Evelyn says:

    In case this point is missed: The last line is the most important. God’s timing is perfect.
    Hope you had a great Easter Sunday ! The Castle Lady


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