I’ve been pondering on the subject of this blog all week and I finally decided it was time to write it out. Last Sunday in our sermon at church we covered Jesus and His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee, calming a storm, and working miracles among a community (Mark 4). This adventure is prefaced by Jesus saying “Let us go over to the other side.” I thought about that phrase all week. I understand that the immediate context is Jesus desiring to cross the Sea of Galilee to reach the opposite side, but I think the directive can be taken in a deeper way as well. The town to which Jesus and His disciples traveled to was Gentile. The Jews did not associate with Gentiles at all – they were “others” and not part of a Jewish person’s community or concern.
Human nature hasn’t changed at all since then. If there’s anything we do well, it’s separating into “us” and “them”. A brief look through the news will make one wonder if humanity can do anything else. Any possible difference between people becomes a source of conflict. Religion, political party, economic class, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, race – all the ways that describe us end up dividing “us” from “them”. When Jesus walked this earth, the society in which He moved operated just the same way. And He had none of it. Jesus’ ministry was marked by His “going to the other side.” He was oblivious to the barriers He continually broke through and this angered those who had meticulously labored to erect them. A lot has been made of Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized of society – in fact, I’ve heard some claim that Jesus came to minister exclusively to the outcasts and bring the Kingdom of God to them. But Jesus was about more than finding a place for the neglected. It’s true that He ate with “sinners”, but He also ate with the religious elite. He spent a lot of time with the poor, but many of His friends were counted among the wealthy. He surrounded Himself with men and women. Jesus didn’t come for a particular subset of society – He came for everyone and to remove all barriers between us. One could argue that in setting foot on the earth, the Son of God was “coming to the other side” so that there would not separation between God and man again.
I thought about Jesus’ words again: “Let us go to the other side.” What would it look like for me to go to the other side? Who do I see as “other”? Who do you see? I begin to wonder if this was the directive that fueled the Kingdom of God. This was the lesson Jesus instilled in His disciples during the years He spent with them – He was sending them out, preparing them to see the “others” and to heal and preach good news to them. We hear a lot about “standing our ground”, “drawing a line”, “entrenching in”…. I wonder how our world would change if instead of standing our ground, we “went over to the other side” to serve with love and show grace. I wonder how my world would change if instead of seeing “them”, I saw the image of God in their eyes. Am I brave enough to follow Jesus to the other side? The thought frightens me. I bet the disciples were uncomfortable with the notion too, but they obeyed, and they got a front row seat to seeing the Kingdom of heaven come to the hearts of men. And not one of them ever regretted that choice to follow over to the other side.
Blessings to you,