04 March 2018

At Home with God in Christ Jesus

Christ Jesus is consumed with zeal for His Father’s House.  He is eaten up by that zeal.  It’s not a matter of pride or ego.  He’s not defensive of His Father’s House, as though His Father might be injured by the abuses of man.  He is zealous for His Father’s House, that it should be a place of peace and rest for you and for all of the children of God.

Jesus will not stand for His Father’s House to become a marketplace.  And that’s not about the buying and selling of goods and services, although that is admittedly a bit tacky.  His concern is rather with efforts to buy and sell the grace of God, as though His mercy, forgiveness, and blessing were commodities to be traded; as though His children had to purchase their seats at His Table.

But God is not for sale.  And your place with God is not for sale at any price.  You can’t buy it or earn it.  He would give it to you freely by His grace, for His own sake, with love for you in Christ.

It is zeal for that grace of God that consumes the Lord Jesus, even to the point of His death upon the Cross.  That is where He is eaten up, in order to obtain and secure your place with God.

So has He taken the scourge to His own back.  He has suffered in His body and soul the destruction of God’s righteous wrath and judgment.  He has satisfied the entire justice of God’s Law.  There is nothing left undone.  There is no more punishment due.  He has paid the penalty that you owed,  and in faith and love, on your behalf, He has accomplished everything that was required.

And so His Father’s House is a place for you.  Not just a place where you can hang your hat and throw your stuff and lay down your body at the end of the day, but a place where you are at peace.  Where you can truly rest, not only your body but your busy mind and your weary, restless heart.  A place where you are safe.  Where you are well fed, and clothed, and sheltered, and taught, and cared for.  In short, He has made His Father your Father, so that you have a home with Him.

All of this He has done for you in love. For He is the Lord your God.  He is your Savior and Redeemer.  Thus has He taken you by the hand and taken you out of Egypt.  He has released you from the house of bondage and brought you into the Father’s House as a beloved child of God.

He has redeemed you from slavery to sin and death, from which you could never by any means set yourself free.  He has set you free.  The chains that bound you, He has broken.  He has ransomed and redeemed you for Himself.  He has purchased you with His own Blood.  He has paid the price.

Thus, you are the Lord’s.  And the Son has reconciled you to His Father.  He has established peace.  For God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.  He has snatched you away from Pharaoh, and He has delivered you into the household and family of God in peace and love.

Given all of that, why is it still so hard and so uncomfortable and scary for you to stand in the presence of God at the foot of His Mountain, to hear His Word and receive His gifts?

Why is it that you still tremble in fear at the voice of God, who is your Father in Christ Jesus?  When He commands you in the way that you should go, when He catechizes you in the way of life, why does this make you so afraid?  Why do you run away and hide, or else drive yourself into the ground with all your efforts to appease His wrath and earn His good will?

He is your Father, and yet, how often are you afraid of Him?  How often are your mind and your heart not at peace, unable to rest in the confidence that your Father cares for you?

Although Jesus has brought you out of Egypt, there is still too much of Egypt that clings to you.  The dust of Egypt is still trapped between your toes and wedged under your fingernails.  The sweat of that hard labor still coats you.  There’s too much of the world’s wisdom competing for a place in your heart and mind with the foolish wisdom of God, which makes no sense to your sinful flesh.

Even the many good things that God gives to you so freely by His grace, and lavishes upon you, and pours into your arms, you horde to yourself as though you must guard them, and you withhold from your neighbor in his need.  Or you offer them to God as some kind of protection money, though that never was even remotely the point or purpose of the sacrifices that He commanded.

The Lord your God does not need anything from you.  He does not need anything from anyone.  All that you are and have is His, along with the whole world and all the fulness thereof.   All that He has given to you, He gives because He is your Father in Christ Jesus, and He delights to give good gifts to His children; and that you might use His gifts to love and serve your neighbors.

God commands sacrifice, not to deprive you of the good things He has given you, but so that you would learn to live by faith in Him; that you would learn to entrust yourself and all things to Him.

Nevertheless, sacrifice in a fallen world, for fallen man, does mean death.  It means that you must die to yourself.  That you must die to all of your efforts to build your own house and make your own way in the world.  That you should live by faith in your Father, which can feel quite scary.

Whereas God’s heart is reconciled to you in Christ Jesus, where is your heart?  And where are you?

It’s not that God would have you flee from the world.  It’s not even a problem if you reside in the country of Egypt, or anywhere else, for that matter.  You don’t have to escape God’s good creation.  This is His world, and He is the One who has put you here.  So it’s not a matter of trying to escape the world or flee from it.  It’s rather a matter of living in the world as a child of God, your Father in Christ, and being at peace with Him through faith in His forgiveness of your sins.  It’s a matter of letting your heart be at peace with Him, as He has set His heart at peace with you.

So, too, it’s not a matter of building a house for yourself, nor that you should try to build a house for God or attempt to buy Him off with bits and pieces of His own stuff.  But, again, that you live and move in this world as one who is at home with the Lord, and therefore as one who is able to use well the things that God has given, while not becoming restless over that which you have not.

God has provided that sort of place for you here.  Not a particular place here, there, or anywhere, but a place for you in His heart, and a place for Him in your heart.  It’s not location, location, location in this case, but a matter of the heart, of faith and trust in Him and His Word.

The place where your heart rests, the place with God that Christ the Lord has established for you, is in His flesh and blood, crucified and risen.  For by His death and in His Resurrection He has made His own Body the Temple of God, wherein you live at peace and rest with your Father.  Not a house for God, as though He were otherwise homeless, but a house and home where the Lord God dwells with you, and where you live with Him in Christ Jesus.

It is for this purpose that Christ is consumed with zeal for His Father’s House, that His own Body should become the House of God and a home with God for you.  Even in death, even swallowed up by death and the grave, He is not overcome, but He has overcome.  He has laid the foundation, He has erected the walls, and He has covered the House with His protection and His righteousness, so that you have a place inside with Him, as a son or daughter of the Father by His divine grace.

But what is it, really, that makes a house or home?  Is it property?  Or possessions?  Is it being able to show a document that says this place is yours?  Is it a piece of land?  Or a particular building?  Is that what makes a home?  Or is it not, rather, to be at peace with your Papa, wherever you are?

You know what I mean.  If you are at peace with your Dad, then even from the other side of the world you’re still at home with him in your heart.  But if things are not right between you and your father, then even at the same table with him you’re not at home, because you’re not at peace.

If you’re afraid of what your father is going to say or do, if you fear some punishment is in store, or if you suppose that he is unhappy with you, then no place anywhere is home.  But when you know that his heart is open to you, that he loves you, that he will protect you, and feed you, and clothe you — then, whether you are close or far away, whether on vacation with or without your family, whether away at school, or wherever in the world you happen to be, you know where your home is, and in your heart you are always there.  You’re at home and at peace with your father.

That is also how it is that you’re able to live “at home” here on earth, regardless of the floor under your feet, or the walls around you, or the roof over your head.  Because your Father loves you from the heart, and His heart is at peace with you in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead.

Home is where the heart is, right?  Therefore, let your heart rest in your Father’s care.  Live by faith in His mercy.  Know that He is at peace with you in Christ, and be at peace with Him.

He’s not unhappy with you.  He’s not angry.  He’s not preparing some punishment for you.  He has flung wide the doors.  He has made the bed.  He has set the Table.  He welcomes you to Himself.

Your Father in heaven, who loves you dearly, He takes care of you.  And He has made a place for you with Himself.  That place is in the Body of Christ Jesus, His beloved and well-pleasing Son.  All the Love that God the Father has for His Son, He also has for you.  He loves you with the same Love!  And all of His good pleasure in Christ Jesus is likewise His good pleasure with you.

You see, then, not only is He not angry at you, He’s actually pleased with you.  He delights in you.  He’s proud of you.  Not because of your works or your income, or the buildings you have built, or anything else you have done, but for Jesus’ sake.  For by His Cross, whereby He was consumed with zeal for His Father’s House — so that you might live with Him — by His Cross Jesus has remedied everything that was amiss.  He has fixed everything that was broken.  All of the anxiety, stress, and tension, He has resolved in His own Body of flesh and blood, crucified and risen.

By His death upon the Cross He has atoned for all your sins, and in His rising from the dead after three days He has indeed established His own Body as the Household, Home, and Family of His Church.  In His Body, all of His brothers and sisters, all of His Father’s children, are at home.

In Him, therefore, baptized into Christ, you also are at home with God, wherever in the world you may roam.  Because the Father’s Son has come to dwell with you here, and to care for you here with His Word of the Cross, by which He forgives all of your sins.  Daily and richly and gladly He does it.  So does He serve you with the Fruits of His Cross, His own Body and His Blood, given and poured out for you.  See how tenderly He places them into your hand and upon your lips, and pours Himself out for you, that you may live and abide in Him, and He in you, both body and soul.

Look here, this is your Father’s House, and this is your Father’s Table, where He has made a place for you.  This is your place, too, this is your house and home, because you are the Father’s own dear child in Christ Jesus.  And this is where your God and Father has prepared the true Passover Lamb, who has been sacrificed for you.  His Blood of the New Testament now marks your door and protects you from sin, death, the devil, and hell.  And that holy, precious Blood of Christ supercedes and renders obsolete the blood of bulls and goats and sheep and oxen.

There’s nothing here for you to buy or sell, to barter or trade, but Peace with God that surpasses human understanding and Sabbath Rest with God in Christ Jesus.  For His Body is your home, and His Blood is your Life and your Salvation, now and forevermore.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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