CHRIST IN THE HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-13-90 8:15 a.m.
And welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are now a part of our precious First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message on Mothers’ Day, entitled Christ in the Home. Our text is without doubt one of the most beautiful sentences in human speech and one of the most precious presentations in the Word of God. In Revelation 3:20, our Lord says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any one hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to that one, and will sup with that one, and that one with Me,” a beautiful promise that uncounted multitudes of us have found so spiritually and preciously true.
If you have ever been in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, in that gorgeous church is one of the most famous paintings in the earth. John Ruskin said it was as fine an example of sacred art as is to be found in all the world. It’s the Lord Jesus knocking at the door, beautifully presented, beautifully drawn, beautifully wrought. A little girl turned to her mommy and said, “Mommy, did He ever get in?” The knob is on the inside, not on the outside; Jesus knocking at the door.
So typical of our Savior: Christ in the home. Christ in the home in which He grew up as a boy and as a youth and as a young man. He was born into a family; born to Mary His mother, born to the family of Joseph [Matthew 1:18-25], lived for a while, possibly two years in Bethlehem [Matthew 2:1, 13-14], lived for a while in Egypt [Matthew 1:13-18], then for the rest of His bringing up in the Galilean city of Nazareth [Matthew 1:19-23]. While there we have one story in His boyhood, at twelve, making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The only child that ever knew more than His parents, but the Bible especially writes that He was subject unto them [Luke 2:41-51].
In the after years, Joseph of the family disappears, and almost certainly Joseph died. And the responsibility of the care of the home and of the family lay upon our Lord Jesus. The Book of Mark calls Him the carpenter [Mark 6:3]. He worked with His hands and supported the home. In the after years, when He was crucified [John 19:16-37], He gave the care of His mother to the apostle John [John 19:26-27] and yet, raised from the dead [John 20:1-18], was spiritually responsible for the family. The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians [1 Corinthians 15:7], Paul carefully points out that when Jesus was raised from the dead He appeared to James. James, the James who was the brother of John the apostle, was beheaded by Herod Agrippa [Acts 12:1-2]; he does not figure in the life of the first church. But James the Lord’s brother was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem [Acts 12:17, 21:18]. He wrote the Book of James here in the New Testament [James 1:1-5:20]. And he was won to the faith personally by our Savior as His brother when He was raised from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:7]. I would suppose also that He appeared to Jude and won Jude to the faith. Jude is the author of one of the books of the New Testament [Jude 1:1-25]. These are the brothers of our Lord—our Savior in the home [Luke 2:51].
Our Savior as a guest in many homes; one of the things that you will notice when you carefully read the life of our Lord, He never turned down an invitation, never. If you wanted the Lord Jesus to come to walk with you, or to be by your side, or to sit down at your table, all you had to do was to ask Him. He was a guest in many, many homes.
He was a guest in a time and in a home of joy, such as in the wedding at Cana of Galilee [John 2:1-11]. He was a guest in sorrow. Isn’t it great to know that Jesus is there? When Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus was there to speak the word of life [John 11:43-44]. That’s just so precious, Jesus in our home!
He was always an infinite blessing. When He was a guest in the home of Simon Peter, Simon’s wife’s mother, his mother-in-law, was ill; and Jesus healed her [Mark 1:29-31]. How precious! How dear! When Jesus was a guest in the home of Simon the Pharisee in Galilee, that sinful woman, she was a prostitute—the Greek word means that—that sinful woman came and washed His feet with her tears, dried them with the hair of her head, and anointed Him with a broken alabaster box of ointment [Luke 7:36-40]. The same beautiful scene occurred in Bethany, when our Lord was a guest in the home of Simon the leper [Matthew 26:6-13]. Anybody, anywhere, could have the Lord Jesus. He was a guest in the home of Simon the leper, and that’s when Mary anointed Him, as the Lord said, for His burial [John 12:1-8]. It’s just, it’s just, it’s just unbelievable that God incarnate in the flesh [John 1:1, 14] could be with us: sinful and weak and human as we are, God with us, a guest in our home.
When the centurion’s servant was ill unto death, the servant so sick and so tragically ill, the centurion asked Jesus to come into his home and heal him. And Jesus said, “I will.” And He was making His way in Capernaum to the home of the centurion; and the centurion, as he came nigh, said, “I am not worthy that You be in my house, under my roof. Just speak the word and my servant will be healed.” And he was healed from that hour [Matthew 8:5-8, 13].
As our Lord came to Jericho, He said to Zaccheus, “Today I will spend in your house” [Luke 19:1-5], a despised outcast publican, “I will be in your home.” And in Bethany, of course, there where oft He was entreated by Mary and Martha and Lazarus [John 11:1-5], whom He raised from the dead [John 11:43-44].
There’s not a more beautiful story in this earth—in fact Renan, the great literary critic said, “The most beautiful story in human speech is the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke,” Jesus walking with the two disciples to Emmaus. And when they came to their house, they invited Jesus into the home. He always accepted the invitation; He always does. He never fails. And there as He bowed His head in leading the blessing, in saying the prayer, they recognized Him by the prayer that He said [Luke 24:13-35]—Jesus in the home.
And that leads me to my last portion of this message: Jesus invited into our homes. Upon a day, I was walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And I saw a man seated at the little places you are able to be seated in those different rooms where the beautiful paintings are presented. I saw a man seated there, and he was enraptured looking at a painting. I stayed in the museum a long time, looking at all the beautiful, beautiful presentations. And I’d pass by that room, and there was that man. And after I had been at least half a day in the museum, I passed by that room and he was still seated there. What he was looking at is absolutely one of the most moving of all the paintings ever wrought by human genius. It is entitled, Christ Among the Lowly; and it is a picture of a family, a humble family, a poor family, bowed in prayer at the table before they break bread together, and Jesus there with His hand extended in blessing. I think of that in our homes and in our families, Jesus there with His hands extended in blessing.
I cannot imagine, I cannot think how anyone would not invite the Lord Jesus into the house and into the home. Why would anyone close the door against Him? “Lord, you are so welcome. Come, be seated at our table. Bless us in all of the cares and assignments of our lives. Remember us in our hour of need, and take care of us now and in the world to come. Welcome, Jesus, into our home.”
And when He comes, what kind of a family would He find? What kind of a husband or father? What kind of a wife or mother? And what kind of a child? What would Jesus find in our homes?
There is a pattern of life that I could pray all of us would share with our Lord. Here’s one: always we bow and have a blessing before we break bread, always. We bow for the prayer of thanksgiving to God for the food, the shelter, the clothing, the sustaining of our family life. Our Lord did that. On the way to Emmaus, He bowed in prayer before they broke bread together [Luke 24:30]. Wherever in the Bible you find Jesus breaking bread, always first He prays. When He fed the four thousand, first He blessed the bread [Mark 8:6]. When He fed the five thousand, first He blessed the bread [Mark 6:41], always saying a blessing at the table.
I so poignantly remember when I was a teenager and in college, I preached at an association. And to my amazement, when I was done preaching, the most distinguished member in that congregation, the county judge, stood up, and he said, “This night, I am dedicating my life to the Lord. And as a sign of that dedication, beginning in the morning at breakfast, and from now on as long as I live, we’re going to say a blessing at the table.” Nothing could be more beautiful than to begin the day with a prayer of blessing at the table, and every time you eat to ask God’s presence in the home, in the family, and in the assignments of the day.
And at the close of the day: often times in the Bible will you read where Jesus prayed at night. For example, He prayed all night long before He chose the twelve apostles [Luke 6:12-13]. It says in Luke [five] that our Lord, after the ministries of the day [Luke 5:12-15], went out into a place alone, and prayed [Luke 5:16]. It was while He was praying at night that He was transfigured, and His face and His raiment became light as the sun [Luke 9:28-29]. And of course you remember it was at night in Gethsemane that He prayed before the awful hour of trial and crucifixion [Mark 14:32-39]. For us to pray at night is a beautiful and wonderful and holy and precious thing to do.
I tell you what I think everybody ought to have: I think everybody ought to have a prayer rug, everybody. I’m not thinking of the Mohammedan; he has a prayer rug wherever in the earth you’ll find him. But I think we ought to have a prayer rug, and it ought to be there by the side of your bed; and before you go to sleep at night, kneel down on that prayer rug and ask God for His blessings while you rest in sleep and to ask God for strength for the new day. It’s a beautiful way for God’s presence to be known and felt in your home and in your life.
The pattern of life in the Christian family: going to church, dressing for church. I was thinking, in preparing the sermon, I can never remember anytime in my life when we were not getting ready for church on Sunday morning, always, as a little boy, as far back as life can remember. Then as a teenager, when I at seventeen began to be pastor of a church, getting ready with the family with whom I lived to go to church. And of course, through all of these years and years since, Sunday is a day of happiness and joy and anticipation, getting ready to go to church—a beautiful and marvelous and rewarding way to live.
And of course, in the home mother so largely colors everything that we do, and especially in our worship of Christ. I’m like many of you: my mother led me to Jesus. She so loved having preachers in the home. And in the revival meeting in this little town of three hundred people, he stayed in our home. And at a ten o’clock morning service, when he gave the invitation, my mother turned to me—I just happened to be seated in the pew back of her—my mother turned to me and said, “Son, today, today, will you give your heart to the Lord Jesus? Will you take Him as your Savior?” And I answered, “Yes, Mother, yes.” And with many tears, she was crying; with many tears I also cried, and walked down the aisle and gave my hand to the preacher and my heart to the Lord Jesus—beautiful, precious remembrance of my mother. And now in heaven she looks down on me.
She always leaned to watch for us,
Anxious if we were late;
In winter by the window,
In the summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly,
Who had such foolish care
The long way home would seem more safe
Because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget!
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.
Waiting till we come home to her,
Anxious if we are late;
Watching from heaven’s window,
Leaning from heaven’s gate.
[“The Watcher,” Margaret Widdemer]
In preparing these sermons on heaven, that’s part of one of them: whether these who are in heaven look down upon us in earth. And in my study, for the first time in my life, I became convinced that these who are preceding us to glory know of our life, of our love, and of our soon coming. God bless the sainted memory of our sweet mothers, and God grant a joyous reunion someday in that beautiful home the Lord is preparing for us in glory [John 14:1-3]. God bless us as we emulate the beautiful life of our Christian mothers.
Now Fred, let’s sing us a song. And while we sing the song, a family you to come and to be with us in the worship of God, a couple you to give your heart and life and home to the Lord Jesus, or just one somebody you accepting Him as your Savior, inviting Him into your heart [Romans 10:9-10], and into your house and into your home, into your life, on the first note of the first stanza, come and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.