Jesus is Always at Our Side

Jesus said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’    (Mark 4:35)

I wonder if the disciples ever got tired of Jesus saying, “Let us go across to the other side.”  Or if they ever wanted to say to him, “Jesus, chill!”  Or, “Jesus, there’s already more than enough for us to do on this side.” Or, “Jesus, we don’t want to go to the other side because there are lost, dirty, wrong, mistaken, and bad people over there.”

Even if the disciples had never verbalized any of their apprehensions or reluctance about going to the other side, Jesus wouldn’t have paid any attention.  He wasn’t interested in their “comfort zone.” He was focused on God’s mission, which is often uncomfortable.

Who was on the other side?  The despised Samaritans. The damned Gentiles. The children that might distract. The prostitutes who might compromise. The women who might tempt. The lepers who might infect. The Romans that might rule forever.

But where did Jesus go? To the other side.  His eyes were always on the horizon; His heart was always reaching out; His vision was always outwardly focused.  He never wanted to squat, hunker down, play it safe, or build walls to protect.

That’s very good and hopeful news for us because who else is on the other side?  We are.  When Jesus came to this world, He was coming to the other side for us all.  Why did He leave Heaven to come to the other side of this world? To save, forgive, heal, reconcile, redeem, bless, and love.

If Jesus hadn’t come to the other side of this world, we wouldn’t know Him, hear Him, receive Him, or follow Him.  If Jesus hadn’t come to the other side, we would’ve remained lost, stuck, broken, burdened, and separated from God.

The invitation that Jesus gave to his first disciples about going to “the other side,” He gives to us. That’s how Jesus works.  That’s how He wants us to live—with a view to the horizons, with a desire to cross all boundaries, reconcile all divisions, and embrace all people.

For me, in this last year, the other side has been people of color, most particularly African Americans or black people.  I’ve immersed myself in their literature and social commentary. I wouldn’t have said that I’ve ever been a racist, but I have come to see that I’ve been given opportunities, privileges, and access in ways that brown or black people haven’t.

So, how could Jesus be calling me to the other side? To do all I can to make the playing field equal, and to work for justice, fairness, and equity for all of God’s children.  One of the most simple and profound theological statements is this: “Jesus loves the little children/All little children of the world/Red, and yellow, black and white/They are precious in his sight.”

Just think of the understanding and healing that would happen if we all joined Jesus on the other side.  What would happen if Democrats moved towards the other side with the Republicans, and the Republicans moved towards the other side with the Democrats?  What would happen if those with means, money, and more than one home moved to the other side with those who had no place to call home?  What would happen if those who wanted to build a wall to keep immigrants out went to the other side and actually stayed—even for a week—with those who had to leave their homeland in order to live?

Because Jesus came to the other side when He left heaven, we must accept that He calls us to the other side in order to gather up all of God’s children.  There’s tremendous hope that Jesus committed to cross every boundary, difference, and distinction to find us.  There’s also tremendous hope when we realize and accept Jesus’ call to go to the other side so that all people would know God as their Father, Jesus as their Savior and Brother, and heaven as their home.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What does Jesus’ invitation to go to “the other side” mean to you?
  1. Who might Jesus be asking you to see, find, understand, and help?
  1. Before we can hear Jesus’ invitation to go to “the other side,” we need to believe that He’s always at our side. Do you believe that?  If not, have you recently asked Him to make His presence known?

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