There is something singularly sweet in these words of the Lord. They find an answering echo in most hearts, and that in a special way just now; but in none more so than in the heart of him who knows the love of Christ.
We heard an anxious wife, who had received an official report that her husband was missing on the battle front in France, use these words concerning him the other day: she had turned to the Lord in her anxiety and had found Him as her own personal Saviour. Two of her children also trusted Christ; and they together joined in their mother’s words, and said: “Yes, when father comes home, we’ll always bring him with us to hear of Jesus.” But, we wondered, will he ever come home again?
The affectionate parents whose only son is facing the dangers of the pitiless battlefield often think of the time when he shall come home again. And the widow of whom we heard today who has lost three sons in the great conflict is longing to see her youngest and only remaining boy safe at home again. The wife is longing for her husband and the mother for her boy; the father for his son and the children for their father; the girl or boy for the brother, the master for his faithful servant, the man for his friend and the lady for her lover; each one longs for the home-coming “when he comes home!” The heart’s longing has been turned into popular song, but it is the sad uncertainty of it all which brings a softening to the hardest heart—a strange tenderness and sympathy.
The one who has learned of the Spirit the true teaching of the words which we quote will be touched by them in a deeper, because a divine, way, for he knows that they speak so eloquently to him of his Saviour, Shepherd and Lord; of His home-coming from the far battlefield; of His return with the prize of His toil and suffering: when He comes home from the scene of conflict and blood-shedding, from Calvary, where He went in the love of His heart to save us from everlasting misery and woe. Truly, He comes home rejoicing and victorious. There is no uncertainty in this case. Nevertheless, the heart is deeply touched, as the eye of faith beholds the eternal Lover of our souls returning home from His toilsome task, bringing the saved one with Him:
“He lays it on His shoulders rejoicing. And when He comes home, He calls together His friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with Me; for I have found My sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:5-6).
His home-coming is ours! Well may our hearts rejoice! When He comes home, He brings us with Him! As sure as He came from that home to save us, so surely He brings all those that He saves to that home from which He came!
“Oh, what a home! But such His love
That He must bring us there,
To fill that home, to be with Him,
And all His glory share.”
The redeeming blood of Christ has secured it for us. His finished work, His present service, and His future power, all combine to the same end. The work of the Holy Spirit, too, is also in view of the same blessed result. And the Father, as we see in the third part of Luke 15, runs to meet the returning one, and receives him into the home with joy and gladness; and the merry-making, the music, the feasting, and the dancing of that home of the Father’s love begin. The Son rejoices! The Holy Spirit rejoices! The Father rejoices! There is joy in heaven! There is joy in the presence of the angels of God! Well may we rejoice also! It is meet that we should make merry and be glad. The lost one is found. The dead is alive again. He is received home again. He is safe and sound.
We are told in the parable, When the Lord Jesus comes to the house, He Himself calleth for rejoicing. What a different view this gives us of the house of God to that which is common in Christendom. The sad, the sorrowful, and the solemn obtain there, the mournful and the funereal is prevalent; whereas rejoicing and feasting, merry-making and dancing, music and praise characterize that holy home of the Father’s love. It is true that the beautifully drawn picture of Luke 15—probably the most beautiful of any writing extant—is illustrative of that which is spiritual; of that which is only known by those who have the Spirit of God. But, then, that only emphasizes the fact that the reality surpasses the figure, however lovely that figure may be.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9).
Yes, that home is infinitely more bright and blessed than the best picture of it. And it is to such a home that the saved sinner is brought by his precious Saviour—“when He comes home.” There is a time when its joys and its feastings begin for us, but they will never end; there is a moment when we first know its merry-making and its dancing, but it will go on for ever; there is a time when its music and praise first reach our ears, but its rich and varied melodies are eternal. Words fail to express the deep and everlasting love of that home. As we think of it, how sweet are those words—“When He comes Home.” The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son, knew the love of that home well. He was the well-beloved Object of it. He ever dwelt in its divine fullness and blessedness. It was the love wherewith He was loved before the foundation of the world, and He came from the Father to redeem us, and bring us into that same wonderful love. Therefore He can say to the Father concerning us, THOU HAST LOVED THEM AS THOU HAST LOVED ME (John 17:23). Oh, what a dwelling-place!
Oh, the love that fills it! Oh, the love that sought and saved us, to bring us in where He Himself dwells.
“Thou abidest in the bosom of the Father’s love:
In that love for ever living, love—all thought above:
And we know that Thou would’st have us ever dwell with Thee,
In that holy, heavenly dwelling, home of liberty.”
If it is ours to enjoy the love of that home now, and to enter in faith and in the power of the Spirit into its joy and rejoicing, what will it be when in changed and glorified bodies, fashioned like unto Christ’s own body of glory, we are actually there with Him where He is? Even as He said—that where I am there ye may be also. Truly that will be a blessed home-coming!
And we are nearer, dearly beloved brethren, to that moment than we ever were. Another year gone—and such a year of strife and sorrow and suffering as regards the world, finds us closer to the portals of that desired place. Each month, each week, each day, each hour, each moment brings us nearer home. Some have had a long and rough journey, but the Lord has kept them safely and securely. Trials and testings have been the lot of us all, but His love has never failed. Uphill and difficult the road has often been, but fresh grace and strength have been ministered. Sorrow and joy, storm and sunshine, tribulation and peace have been experienced by us, but He has never left us. An old saint meant much when she said, “I have proved Him in winter and summer.” When Israel journeyed through the wilderness to Canaan, their companion was the tabernacle, and the Lord’s presence was there. They travelled through the wilderness of testing to the place of their rest. There remaineth a rest for the people of God; and each step we take brings us closer to its welcome threshold.
“What will it be when dangers all are past,
We reach our home—the Father’s house, at last.”
We rejoice in hope of the glory; but our Lord Jesus Christ rejoices even more than we do, as He looks on to our home-bringing. He is there, and we must be there. His home-coming secured ours. He would not be there without us. And though, on the way, all things work together for our good, yet the predestination, and the purpose of God also, involves our being fully conformed to the image of His Son in the glory, that “HE MIGHT BE THE FIRSTBORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN” (Rom. 8:29) in that place of ineffable delight. The Father’s foreknowledge took everything into account, our poor, feeble, sinful selves, and all the circumstances of the way; and He made full and perfect provision in Christ. Blessed be His holy name.
The Lord Jesus shall shine pre-eminent as the centre of the glory. All things shall be centred up in Him. And who can tell the deep joy that shall fill His heart, as He sees around Him the fruit of all His travail and toil; as He sees those He loves with an infinite love around Him in that home of gladness and glory. Our hearts praise Him, and shall continue to praise Him for ever and ever. He is worthy—infinitely worthy! His finished work and His present work prove both His love and His worthiness. Oh, what a Saviour is ours! Well may songs of praise fill our hearts, and our mouths also.
“Sing of His dying love; sing of His rising power;
Sing how He intercedes above for those whose sins He bore.
Sing on your heavenly road, ye sons of glory sing;
To Him our Saviour, Shepherd, Lord—your cheerful praises bring,
Soon we shall hear Him say, ‘Ye ransomed pilgrims, come!’
Soon He will take us hence away to our eternal home.”