In reading through Luke 9-10 yesterday morning, I was struck by the times that Jesus says, “Go.” I remembered, of course, that Jesus’ last instructions before leaving earth included “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Those words of Jesus have been repeated often and have motivated countless Christians to engage in the mission of Jesus. Yet, here in Luke, three times Jesus tells followers to “Go.”
Jesus tells a man who wanted to follow Him, “Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:60). A few verses later, as He sends out His disciples, Jesus tells them, “Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves” (Lk 10:3). Then at the end of the chapter, Jesus tells a religious law expert about showing mercy to your neighbor and instructs, “Go and do the same” (Lk 10:37).
“Go!” is a command to action. You cannot follow Jesus and stay where you are. It’s not possible. Going requires movement in the direction you are sent.
But it’s so much easier to stay. It’s familiar, and often comfortable, to just stay where you are. It’s less risky. Less dangerous. Yet, it’s our duty to go! Regardless of the cost, we are to go.
Following Jesus requires more than a heart that says, “I will follow you no matter where you go.” It requires total abandonment–a commitment to go even if it results in being homeless or being separated from family (Lk 9:57-60). Following wherever Jesus goes is seen in your actions, not your words.
Jesus’ call to follow includes going to “preach the coming of the kingdom of God.” He sends His followers with the message of the kingdom. To stay (or even “look back”) demonstrates you are not fit for the kingdom. Staying is evidence you are not kingdom-focused.
In Luke 10, the Lord sends 70 followers on mission to proclaim the kingdom. He tells them to pray for laborers–and then He immediately sends them as laborers into the harvest. He sends them to every city where He Himself will be going.
Jesus warns them that going would not be easy. They are going as “lambs in the midst of wolves.” Yet the imperative is that they must go. It’s not an option. There will be some who listen to their message and receive them. There will also be those who reject them–which means they are rejecting Jesus and the One who sent Him.
Yet their responsibility is to go–proclaiming “the kingdom of God has come near to you.” They were sent on a mission with a message. Preach the kingdom. Enter homes. Bless. Eat and drink together. Accept hospitality. Bring healing.
Jesus sends them to homes to live with people and bless them and share meals together. Jesus didn’t send them out to invite people to a crusade, or conference, or church gathering. He sent them to live missionally–declaring and demonstrating the kingdom. This is incarnational living–even as Jesus Himself lived (Jn 1:14 – “dwelt among us.”) Going requires that we engage with those in the culture around us.
If there were only two times that Jesus said “Go!” in Luke 9-10, I think my understanding of going would be most strongly described as Proclaiming in the context of home, food and conversation. However, Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan man who had compassion and demonstrated mercy to a man who was mugged and left to die on the side of the road. After describing what loving your neighbor looks like, Jesus says, “Go and do the same.” Go and show mercy.
Just a few pages earlier, Jesus says in Luke 6, “Love your enemies…do good… bless… pray… give to everyone who asks… lend, expecting nothing in return.” He then gives a powerful instruction, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
The Father is merciful to me! His mercies are never-ending. They are new every morning.
Jesus says, “Go and do the same.” Be merciful. Love your neighbor. This is missional activity. Those who are sent by Jesus can’t just declare God’s mercy–we must demonstrate God’s mercy. We must be compassionate.
I’ve been one of those Christians who is quick to say, “I don’t have the gift of mercy.” I confess that I’m not yet a merciful and compassionate person. But that’s not an excuse. It’s an admission of my failure to really live out the gospel in the culture around me.
When Jesus says “Go” – you can’t stay!
When Jesus says “Go”–He sends me on mission with others to “be Jesus” to those around me. Since Jesus is merciful, I can be merciful. Going requires movement in the direction I’ve been sent. He sends me to love others, to bless others, to show mercy–to visibly demonstrate the gospel. So I can’t stay where I am. I have to go–and I will have to learn from Jesus how to become more loving and merciful.
When Jesus says “Go” you can’t stay! Oswald Chambers suggest that if you know that He told you to go and you choose to stay, “it simply means that you do not believe that Jesus means what He says.