CHRIST IN THE HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-13-90 10:50 a.m.
And a joy here in our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas to praise God with you for our Savior, for the blessings that He brings to our homes and hearts, and for our dear mothers. The title of the sermon today is Christ in the Home. The beautiful text, and one of the most precious in all the Word of God is Revelation 3:20, quoting our Lord: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man, if any woman, if anyone hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to sup with him, with her, with that someone, and he will break bread and sup with Me.”
If you have ever been a visitor in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, you have seen what John Ruskin described as one of the greatest pieces of sacred art in the world. It is a painting of Jesus, standing, knocking at the door. A little girl with her mother, looking at the picture, asked, “Mommy, did He ever get in?” The door knob, the latch, is on the inside, not on the outside. And our Lord stands there knocking at the door.
I am to speak of the Lord in the home in three ways: first, the home in which He lived; second, the home in which He was so often invited as a guest; and third, the entrance of our Lord as a guest in our homes.
First: the home of our Lord when He was in the pilgrimage and incarnate in this world. Our Lord was born in a family, Joseph’s family; and He was born to a devout mother named Mary [Matthew 1:18-25]. And He lived in that home for about two years in Bethlehem [Matthew 2:1, 13-14]; then for a while in Egypt [Matthew 1:13-18]; then the rest of the years of His youth and young manhood in the home in Nazareth [Matthew 1:19-23]. It was as a boy twelve years of age, in the home in Nazareth, that He made His pilgrimage to Jerusalem, one that is so beautifully described by the Gospel writer Luke. He is the only child in the world who knew more than His parents, yet the doctor, physician, Luke is very careful to write that He returned home, and was subject unto His parents [Luke 2:41-51].
Somewhere in the life of the Lad, Joseph must have died. He disappears from the story all together. And in the Gospel of Mark our Savior is called the carpenter [Mark 6:3]. Almost certainly the care and the support of the family rested upon Him; and He cared for them faithfully. Even in the hour of His death on the cross [John 19:16-37], He said to His servant John, “Behold, your mother.” And He said to John, “Behold your mother;” and to her, Behold your son” [John 19:26-27]. And John writes, “From that moment on he took her to his own home” [John 19:27]. That is amazing: that even in the sorrows and agonies of crucifixion He remembers His mother.
And not only that, but He remembered them spiritually. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that when Christ was raised from the dead He appeared to His brother James [1 Corinthians 15:7]. James the brother of John was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I [Acts 12:1-2], and has no part in the life of that early and first Christian church. But James the Lord’s brother was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem [Acts 12:17, 21:18]. Even Josephus writes about him, he was so dedicated and gifted a man of God. He had a brother Jude; and I am sure that when the Lord appeared to James to win him to the faith, He also appeared to Jude. There is a book in the Bible, a letter in the Bible by James [James 1:1-5:20]; there is also one by Jude—our Lord’s ministry and devotion and life in His own home [Jude 1:1-25].
I speak now of our Savior as a guest in many, many other homes. One of the things that I read, the leper in Bethany, Jesus is there in the home [Matthew 26:6-13]. And once again you have that beautiful, beautiful scene of Mary, the sister of Martha, the sister of Lazarus, breaks an expensive box of ointment and anoints His feet—Jesus in the home [John 12:1-8].
And thus the story continues in Capernaum: a Roman centurion sends word to the Lord, “My servant is sick unto death. Will You come and heal him?” What did I say? He was never invited but that He accepted the invitation: all you need to do is just invite Him. The Lord accepted the invitation of this Roman centurion. And as He drew nigh to the house, the Roman officer met Him, and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You come under my roof. You just speak the word and my servant will be healed.” And from that hour, that servant was healed [Matthew 8:5-8, 13]—Jesus in the home.
When He came to Jericho, He spoke to Zaccheus and said, “Today, this day I shall spend in thy house” [Luke 19:1-5]. And oh, what a benediction and blessing again our Lord was in the home of Zaccheus, a despised outcast publican, tax collector, hated; but Jesus in his home [Luke 19:6-7]. And of course on His way to Jerusalem, there to be arraigned, tried and crucified, He stayed in the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus [John 12:1-2]; a home in which He had been a welcomed guest many, many times.
And I could never, never close this little list of the homes into which Jesus was invited without adding the house, in the home in Emmaus, in which He was invited when He was raised from the dead [Luke 24:28-29]. Renan, the great French critic, says that the most beautiful story in the earth in human literature is the story of our Lord in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke as He walks with the two on the way to Emmaus. “And coming nigh to the city, they invite Him into their home.” What did I say? He never ever refused an invitation. He turned aside and into the home in Emmaus. They sat down in the eventide for the breaking of bread, and when Jesus asked the blessing they knew Him by the blessing that He asked [Luke 24:13-35]. There was a certain way that Jesus had of saying the blessing at the table, and they recognized who He was in the saying of the blessing at the table [Luke 24:30-31]; Jesus in the home.
And now I come to speak of Jesus, an invited guest in our home. Upon a day, I was in the great Metropolitan Art Museum of New York City. And spending half a day there, just looking at those incomparable pieces of art, I saw a man seated in one of those rooms of exhibition and looking at a painting. As I went through the different rooms I’d pass by the door and there he was. And when I left the museum, after hours of being there, he was still seated, looking at that beautiful piece of art. What was it that so captured and enraptured him? It is a famous painting entitled Jesus Among the Lowly. It’s a painting of a poor, poor family, and they are gathered around the table, and they are breaking bread. And they are bowed in the blessing. And above the artist has painted the picture of the precious, blessed Lord Jesus, with His hands extended over that poor family: Jesus Among the Lowly.
How could anyone not welcome Jesus into his/her house? How could anyone refuse His coming? What a blessing, what a benediction, I say, is our Lord in the home; just to open the door and let Him come in. And having come in, what would He find? What kind of a father or husband? What kind of a mother or wife? And what kind of a child, a son or a daughter, when Jesus comes into our home?
There are patterns of life that so characterize our Savior, that ought to characterize our homes. One: to say a blessing at the table before we eat. Wherever, wherever in the Word of God you will find the Lord Jesus seated at a table, always He is asking the blessing. He prayed before breaking the bread for the four thousand [Mark 8:6]. He prayed before breaking the bread before the five thousand [Mark 6:41]. When He sat at meat, always He prayed asking the blessing, as in that beautiful story in Emmaus [Luke 24:30]. He always asked the blessing.
We would be pleasing to our Savior in our homes if we would always ask a blessing before we broke bread together. I so poignantly remember as a young student—I began to be a pastor when I was seventeen years of age. And as a young pastor, as a student in school, I was invited to deliver an address at an associational meeting of the Baptist churches in that state, in Kentucky. And when I got through preaching, just pouring my heart, my young heart into the message the best that I could, I was amazed when the most distinguished man in the county, in the association, stood up. He was their county judge. And the minute I finished, he stood up and in a deep, emotional address said that he was consecrating and reconsecrating his life to the Lord Jesus. And he said, “The sign of it will be that in the morning at breakfast I will lead my family in a blessing at the table; and the rest of my life, whenever we gather around to break bread, I shall ask God’s blessings upon my home and on my family.” I don’t know of anything that you could practice in your house and life that is sweeter or dearer than that: before you eat you ask God’s blessings, in thanksgiving, for the food, for the shelter, for the raiment, for all that He does to be with you in your life.
A second thing, a pattern in the life of our Lord that ought to be followed and could be followed in the home: our Lord prayed at night. When you read the Word, so oft times do you find our Lord praying in the night. For example, He prayed all night long before He chose the twelve apostles [Luke 6:12-13]. He chose the great ministries that God had given Him, and at the end of the day [Luke 5:12-15], Luke says in chapter , after the ministries of the day He withdrew into a place alone, at night, and there He prayed [Luke 5:16]. It was at night while the Lord was praying that He was transfigured; His face and His raiment became light like the sun. That was in a prayer at night [Luke 9:28-29]. And of course, you are so well familiar: it was in the night of Gethsemane that He prayed, He knelt and prayed before facing the trial and the cross [Mark 14:32-39]. Jesus prayed at night.
And I have a little word that I think you ought to remember: I think everybody ought to have a prayer rug. Not just the Muslim world; I think everybody ought to have a prayer rug. It ought to be down by the side of your bed, a prayer rug; and there you kneel every night, and close the day, and look forward to the morning on your knees. That’s what Jesus did. And that’s what we can do in our home.
And a last pattern of life in our home: when Sunday morning comes, we arise and prepare to attend church. There’s never been any remembrance in all of my life but that from the youngest age of childhood, in the morning on Sunday, we all dressed for church. And in the days of my beginning ministry, about ten of the first years of my life as a pastor I was single and I lived with the people; and we arose on the Lord’s Day and dressed for church, and in all of these years since, sixty-three of them, I have risen every Sunday morning with the family, preparing for church. It is a beautiful thing, a God-blessed thing. When the Lord’s Day comes, we go to church. Didn’t the Lord honor the Sabbath like that? It says, “When He came to Nazareth, as His custom was, He went to the synagogue” [Luke 4:16]. We also go to our house of worship on the Lord’s Day.
Now may I close? Our mother in the home: so largely—and this would be a trite truism—so largely is the home colored by her. Its sympathies, its remembrances, its spiritual dedications, its habits, its pattern of life; she colors every part of the home. And what a preciousness when the mother has upon her heart to lead her children to the precious Savior. That’s what my mother did for me.
We lived in a little town of three hundred people. The revival meeting came, and the preacher stayed in our house. And at a ten o’clock morning service, I happened to be seated back of my mother. And when the evangelist pastor gave the invitation, my mother turned, while they were singing the hymn “There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood,” my mother turned to me and said, “Son, today, today, will you take Jesus as your Savior? Will you give your heart to Him?” She was crying. And with tears I replied, “Yes, Mother, yes.” And I left my place, and down the aisle, and took the hand of the preacher, “I give my heart to the Lord Jesus.” That’s my mother. And in heaven she looks down upon us and upon me.
In preparing these sermons on heaven, I made a study of what these who are in glory before us see down here in this earth. And I have come to a definite conviction concerning it, studying the Word of God: they look upon us from glory.
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, waiting till we come home to her,
Anxious if we are late;
Watching from heaven’s window,
And leaning from heaven’s gate.
[“The Watcher”; Margaret Widdemer]
Oh, that every child could say, “Mother, I’ll be there! When my task is finished and my work is done, I’ll be there, Mother.” That’s heaven. That’s the Lord’s gracious goodness to us who have found life and light in Him [John 1:4].
And to you who have listened to this hour, may God grant an entrance into your house and heart and home of the blessed Lord Jesus. You’ll never have a dearer friend. You’ll never have a more blessed companion. On the screen you will find a number. You call us. And if you don’t know how to accept Christ as your Savior, we’ll answer. There’ll be a godly somebody there who will show you how to be saved. Write to us anyway; we would love to hear from you. Where you live, where you are, it would be a benediction that you write. And accepting Christ as your Savior [Ephesians 2:8], I’ll see you in heaven some glorious day [John 14:1-3]. God bless you as you open your house, heart, and home to our blessed Lord.
Now, Rick, I want you to play a stanza of a hymn. And while we play that stanza of a hymn, you who are prepared this morning to dedicate your commitment to the work of our Savior, there is a chest of Joash here, there’s one on either side, there’s one on either side of the balcony, there’s one there in the center of the balcony; in this moment while Rick plays this hymn, if you have your commitment card, you come with me and place it in one of these chests of Joash. God bless you as you come.
In this precious moment, to give your heart to the Savior [Romans 10:9-10], to come into the fellowship of the church, to answer a call of the Holy Spirit in your life, in a moment when we stand and sing our appeal, you come and stand by me. In the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, the Spirit of God has spoken to me [John 16:7-15], and I’m answering with my life this morning.” Come and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.