“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
Where is home for you? Maybe it is a place, person, or memory. Perhaps for you home is only a concept or a dream, something intangible and impossible to experience. By definition, home is a residence or world; a place one abides or dwells; something that is inhabited.1 Home, then, seems to be a coalescence of the real and the ideal. It is a place, but not just any place. After all, hotels, prisons, concert halls, and alleys are places—and all might house persons—but they are not home.
Home speaks of belonging, comfort, security, love. Even if the place is meagre, the persons imperfect, and the security tenuous, the acceptance and sense of belonging make the place rich, the people comfortable, the dwelling a fortress. And so it is—a fortress against the emotional and mental attacks of the world. Home is a place of rest and work; both of quiet and of rambunctious clamour; of love and even hate, but not of indifference. You may never have experienced home with your family, but perhaps you have with a particular group of friends, or in a certain place. A house is just a building, a family may be dysfunctional, a place is merely a location until all are animated with the spirit of home.
Let us then marvel that Jesus left his rightful home to make his dwelling among us, as John says (John 1.14). Why would the Son of God give up the comfort—the acceptance—of home in order to make his dwelling among foolish, scraggly, hard-headed humans? Why would Jesus take up residence inside the womb of an unmarried girl? We can only say that our Saviour, who is Love itself, willingly left his home in order to unite God and man. He became the connection between Heaven and Earth—the ladder to Heaven of Jacob’s dream (Gen. 28, see verse 12). In one step, from Heaven to our little blue planet, Jesus began the process of joining together the New Heaven and the New Earth. All because he loves us silly, smelly, heads-hard-as-a-nut humans.
Jesus left his first and best home to make his home here with us. In willingly laying down his life for us something unexpected happened: those who received the proclamation that Jesus is their true Saviour and King were made citizens of Heaven. Heaven was now their world, their home. Step one had happened, but it was nothing so radical—shifting at the root—as the tandem step. Those who received King Jesus in fact became Christ-haunted—as Flannery O’Connor calls knowing Jesus. We might even say Christ-inhabited, where our very selves—body, soul, and spirit—are the dwelling place of Christ.
Jesus wrapped our frail flesh around himself in the Incarnation, but he did not stop there. He delved deeper, coming to live in us—through the Holy Spirit—once he returned home. This seems a paradox: Jesus going home to then make those who believe in him his home. I cannot pretend to explain holy mysteries like this. I am only now learning a little something about home being Love himself, where I can be vulnerable and he receives me. Where I can admit how far I have fallen and he shows me that his redemption is deeper still…And when I run away, I can never outrun the One who makes his home in me (John 14:23).
- Online Etymology Dictionary, Home (n.)
All Scripture quoted from the English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.