To Go Doesn’t Mean a Leisurely Trip

This is the defining image of my experience at Virginia Theological Seminary

I saw this iconic window all most a good number of my seminary days.  Sermon after sermon was preached on what it meant to be apostles, people sent by Jesus into the world to share the Good News.  We remembered with fondness the likes of Charles Henry Brent, Rich Jones, and they many others who found their way to the Philippines or Puerto Rico or the Sudan.  Being sent felt like a rosy thing that we should all seek after and enjoy.

The reality, of course, is that being sent by Jesus doesn’t mean you’ll have a leisurely trip.  The Church Calendar is full of missionaries who got crosswise with local tribal leaders or government officials and ended up on baths of boiling oil, being drawn and quartered, or fates even worse than that.  Being sent by Jesus means giving up your very life to serve the Kingdom.

As he wrote his Gospel in the last quarter of the first century, Matthew had the ability to look back on what had happened in the years since Jesus told his disciples to “Go,” and he realized that there was more to it than simply leaving the room.  In the Greek version of Matthew 28:19, the word translated as “go” is

Go

Go

Which carries with it several different meanings.  Greek is always that way, it seems.  So while poreuomai can and does mean to go, it also means to proceed; to travel or journey; to leave; to live or conduct one’s life; or to die.  Did you catch that last piece?  In the same way that Luke has Jesus inviting his disciples to be his witnesses (Gk. martyrs), Matthew has Jesus telling his disciples to go, and quite possibly to die.  Most of the disciples would come to know the double meaning of poreuomai and martyr, and as modern day apostles, we should be prepared for nothing less.  Suddenly, that defining image of my seminary experience takes on a whole new meaning.

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