Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him.
9 Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. 10 He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. 11 And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was.
13 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, 15 giving them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the twelve he chose:
Simon (whom he named Peter), 17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), 19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). – Mark 3:7-19
I grew up in a motel. My mom and dad ran a mom and pop independent motel and we lived there for the early formative years of my life. The motel business is a come-to-us business. We would wait for customers to see our sign, turn off the highway, and come through the door of the office and ask, “Do you have a single?” Better yet: “Do you have a family room?” Sometimes we would have to sell them a bit: We’re the nicest non-chain motel in town. Or, Yes, we have air conditioning, color TVs, and a pool. More often than not it was a simple matter of renting the room to them. They came to us.
I also spent some time as a real estate broker. A very short time. That’s a go-to-them business. You go to various people seeking to list their homes or sell them a home. You don’t do much business in the office. The best real estate agents are out and about, going to others, offering to help find or sell a home.
Jesus was both a come-to-me as well as a go-to-them teacher; though primarily and overwhelmingly a go-to-them servant. People came to him in droves. They were impressed by his teaching, preaching, and miracles. So they came and witnessed the grace of his teaching and healing touch.
But let’s not miss something: Jesus traveled through eternity into our time and space to come to us first. He is the first Sent-One. He was sent from heaven on high and made his way to be with us. He did not wait for us to look up and seek him. He sought us even when we were not only lost, but very happy to be far away from God.
People came to Jesus, seeking him and desiring the gifts he offers (cf. John 12:18-21). Jesus even invites people to come to him (cf. Matthew 11:28-30). But in order for that invitation to come, he first had to come to us (cf. John 1:9-13). He chooses us (John 15:16).
Now Jesus sends out the twelve. They are not to rely on a come-to-us approach to God’s mission. They are to be his emissaries, going and seeking the lost. They are to go. They are sent. So, too, are we. And lest we miss the complete inclusive nature of this charge, look at this passage from Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
The Holy Spirit is ever calling people to faith in Jesus. So is the church – the bride of Christ. And so are those who just hear the invitation to invite others to come with them to Jesus. He is sending you and me to invite others to come to him. Coming and going, Jesus sends and receives.