Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
— Robert Frost
From time to time, I have to hop a plane somewhere. The occasional vacation, speaking engagement, or wedding may take me out of the state or even the country. And in general, I enjoy my time away.
But there’s nothing as good as coming home. Even just crossing the threshold gives me the feeling of a welcoming embrace.
Other houses may be bigger or fancier, more meticulously kept or decorated. But we’ve done a lot of work on this place over the years. For better or worse, it bears our creative imprint. And we’ve done life together here, with and without kids. This is familiar. This is home, the place where we are always welcome, no matter what.
I can’t imagine how it would feel to be locked out or kicked out, to be told, “I don’t know you. You’re not welcome here.”
But in a sense, that’s how John tells the story of Jesus:
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. (John 1:9-11, NRSV)
John has already spoken of Jesus as the eternal Word through whom all of creation was made. In that Word was life, and life for a darkened world. Would the world celebrate the light? It was created through him. Surely the world would at least recognize him?
John heightens the tension: “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” Literally, John says something like, “He came to his own things.” But it’s the exact same phrase he uses in 19:27, when from the cross Jesus places his mother in the care of the beloved disciple: “And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”
He came to the world which owed its very existence to him. He came to the people who had been waiting and waiting for his arrival.
He came home.
And the door was slammed in his face.
When I first became a Christian, someone shared this verse with me: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20, NASB).
It’s one thing to think of Jesus as a door-to-door salesman, asking for permission to enter a stranger’s house.
But somehow, it’s another to think of him being rejected on the doorstep of his own home.