“Go into all the world.” Most of us are familiar with those parting words of Jesus.
But what if the “world” Jesus wants you to go to is your family at home?
This week I read a story in Mark about a man who was eager to travel to new lands with Jesus, but Jesus stopped him and said, “Go home.”
Jesus healed the man who had suffered for years with demon-possession. Everyone in the area knew him for his violence – even chains couldn’t contain him. He was so out of control that he lived alone among the tombs, probably wishing he was dead himself.
Now, after an encounter with Jesus, he was healed. There was no reason for him to live in isolation anymore. He no longer cut himself with stones or cried out in desperation.
The man was so excited about his new life, that when Jesus was about to leave in a boat, the man was ready to leave too. He begged Jesus to let him go.
But instead of Jesus making room for the healed man in the boat, Jesus told him, “Go home.”
“Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19
I love it that Jesus healed this man. It reminds me of the healing impact an encounter with Jesus has on our lives. He shines his light on our darkness. He heals and gives new life. Jesus loves us.
I also love it that Jesus told the man to go home—even though the man tried to go away with Jesus. His words remind me of these four lessons–
1.The world that Jesus cares about includes the family at home. When Jesus said, “Go into all the world to teach and make disciples,” it demands a unique response from each of us. Some are called to go away—leaving family and the familiar. But others are called to go home. Near and far away—they are each part of the world that Jesus sends us to.
2. “Going home” takes courage too. The healed man may have had to muster up more courage to return to his family than to step into the boat headed for new lands. We don’t know what his relationships were like, but there were likely broken relationships to heal. Jesus sent him home to talk to his skeptical cousins and fearful friends in the market—some were even angry, unsure that the loss of their herd of pigs was worth the exchange for his good health. It definitely takes courage to move to different parts of the world. But it also takes courage to live with a mission in our familiar corner of the world.
3. “Going home” is not a glorious mission, but it’s an important part of the great commission. It’s most likely monotonous. There won’t be pictures of your family meal on “Missions Sunday”. And few will notice your kindness to your new neighbor. But “going home” is an important part of going into all the world. Let’s not overlook the mission at home because we only focus on the foreign.
4. Remember to tell how much the Lord has done at home too. Jesus didn’t just say, “Go home to your family.” He said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker or a great Bible scholar. You just have to be touched by Jesus. And tell about it. What has the Lord done for you? How have you received his mercy? How does he keep transforming your life? That’s your story to tell at home.
The man, who once lived in the tombs, stood on the shore now.
He watched Jesus sit down in the boat while one of the fishermen waded in the water and pushed them off from shore.
And then he went home.
But he didn’t just go home. He went home and told his family, and everyone in the area, how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
What about you? Has Jesus told you, “Go home to your family?”
Maybe you are at home with your toddlers or teens. Or you stay close to home to care for your elderly parents or to run the family business. Whatever it is that keeps you settled at home, remember that Jesus cares about that part of the world too.
May you have the courage to live with a mission in your familiar corner of the world.
And remember to tell how much the Lord has done for you.