Have you ever noticed that there sure is a lot of coming and going in the Gospels? Jesus came to the crowd. He came to Capernaum. He went to a solitary place. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to Golgotha. He called the disciples to “Come!” And he told them to “Go” sell their possessions and give to the poor and to “Go” make other disciples.
Sometimes our journey of life gets hectic. We feel like all we are doing is coming and going. My Mama used to say she was so busy she “met herself coming and going.” But in our comings and goings from day-to-day we can have purpose. We can be like Jesus.
What can we learn from Jesus’ comings and goings.
Jesus went TO places, but He went FOR the people. The Bible documents Jesus traveling to many towns and regions of the countryside: Jerusalem, Bethsaida, Samaria, Galilee, Genneseret, mountainsides, the Sea of Galilee. In each place He went, scripture reveals more to us about His interactions with the people He encountered rather than about the random daily things He did. We don’t know where he spent his nights or what he ate or if He and the disciples ever found a big field and played ball together just for fun. We see him healing and teaching and driving out demons and talking with the hurting people He met.
In our lives, as we come and go, are we more focused on the tasks at hand – get the kids to soccer, buy the groceries, have the oil changed in the car – or have we learned yet that life is about the people we encounter on the journey? Our Father loves hurting people, whether it’s us or a friend or a stranger. He will put His children in the right place at the right time to meet very specific needs. Are we even aware? Or are we so busy being on our way to work or on our way to school or on our way to church that we overlook the lonely, the sick, the hurting, and the desperate around us? Are we more like the compassionate Samaritan on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, or, on a typical day, do we very much resemble the Priest or the Levite who was too busy and distracted to help a wounded man?
Jesus invited people to “Come” and commanded them to “Go.” Notice how the disciples were gently invited to come along with Jesus and learn from Him and allow Him to change them into fishers of men. “Come.” He calls us as well. Come. Gently, patiently, often in a whisper. Come. Early in the morning stillness. Come. Amidst the confused hustle and bustle of life. Come. In the midst of the raging storm. Come. He calls us as much for our good as for His purposes, because His purposes are for our good! We shortchange ourselves and miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow and join with Christ in His healing work here on earth when we ignore the call to come to Him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
As gently as Jesus calls us to come, He is equally firm about His command to “Go.” Jesus commanded a rich man to go sell his possessions and give to the poor. (Matthew 19:21) To an expert of the Mosaic law He said go and show mercy. (Luke 10:37) To the woman at the well He told her to go face Her past sin and come to Him to quench her heart’s thirst. (John 4:16) To the woman condemned by man He offered free-dom from condemnation and the challenge to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) And to all His disciples, then and now, He commands us to…
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Let us respond to His invitation to “Come!” and obey His command to “Go!”
Jesus took time to go to a solitary place to pray. Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus pulling aside to pray. As Jesus faced the toughest moment of His life He pulled away to pray alone. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, left His disciples behind, and prayed about the trials He faced. Many of our most difficult times will feel very lonely. Our Father is there for us in those moments, just as He was for Jesus, for us to come to Him in prayer.
The crowds get wearying. The demands of life leave us frazzled. Work and family and school and commitments pull us in a dozen different directions. We too need to pull away to a solitary place to pray. If Jesus needed to, then we need to exponentially more so. We don’t need to pull away to social media or to TV or to a glass of wine or to friends even – we need to pull away, alone, to our Father and pour out our hearts to Him in prayer and listen to what He has to pour out to us! That is where true refreshing of the soul resides.
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35
Jesus went to Golgotha for you and me. He made the greatest sacrifice of all time. He went to the cross and lay down His life for us.
As we come and go and mingle with friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers from day-to-day Jesus will call us to lay down our lives as well. We probably won’t be called upon to physically die for someone today, but it will sometimes feel like dying to do the compassionate things He asks us to do. That is what dying to self is all about. We lay down our rights and our plans and our wishes to go to that one in need. To come up to someone we don’t know well and offer to pray. To share the good news of Jesus as we go throughout this journey of life.
Are you tired of your rat race of coming and going? It’s time to give in to your Master who says “Come to me and I will give you rest.” It’s time to find strength and refreshment in Him. Not only in His gentle “Come,” but in being obedient to His command to “Go!’