We love to sing the old familiar song “This world is not my home I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me from heaven's open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore”. The song jingles in our head and flows from our lips and gives warm thoughts in the heart as we think of the beauties of heaven, the loved ones who are already there, and the thoughts that we will one day dwell there also. I understand the sentiment. But if we are not careful we can be so busy focusing on our heavenly destination that we lose sight of the journey that has been set before us. We rush through life oblivious to the sights, sounds and stories and situations around us. We are headed to glory but we forget the gospel encounter that is enabling us to have the hope of glory. In doing so we fail to communicate the doctrines of grace that will help others join us in glory.
Jesus did not make the mistake of just passing through. In Luke 18:35-43 we read the story of Jesus and the blind beggar. The blind man was sitting beside the road cobbling together a living by the only means available to him. He was begging. He could not see but he could hear and feel the commotion of the crowds and he inquired about what was going on. The people told him “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by” (Luke 18:37). I submit to you that there is a measurable difference between passing by and just passing through. Jesus demonstrates what that difference is.
When you are just passing through you take the easiest route. You take the interstate and by pass the towns and crooked roads and the crowds and congestion. You want to get through the territory and make it to your destination as soon as possible and with limited stress. But when you are passing by you take the interesting route. Jericho was a less than desirable town and there was a road that went around it. But Jesus did not avoid Jericho but ventured right into the middle of it. He waded into the thick of the crowd where he could touch them and feel their pulse. He heard their stories. He saw their struggles and recognized their pain. He stopped and engaged in conversation with the people. His followers did not understand his concern and methods. When the blind man cried out for mercy Jesus’ disciples tried to silence him and blockade his access to Jesus. But Jesus stopped amongst the masses and asked that the man be brought to him. The disciples and the crowds saw the blind man as a freak to be shunned but Jesus saw him as a man in great need. The disciples were in passing through mode but Jesus was in passing by mode and so he stopped and engaged in a dialogue with the blind man.
The blind man was desperate and lonely and needy. When asked what he wanted Jesus to do for him he answered quickly and clearly “Lord, I want to see. It has been a long time since these eyes have functioned. Let me recover my sight”. Jesus said ok. “Receive your sight”! The man’s vision was recovered and he followed Jesus around the rest of the day, glorifying God, telling people what Jesus had done for him. And all the people who saw it began giving praise to God.
We live in a world that is blind in a multiplicity of ways and for a myriad of reasons. They need the touch of Christ. They need the power of His mercy and grace. They need the gospel that loves and the gospel that saves and the gospel that heals. They are not going to encounter that gospel if we just pass through. But if like Jesus we will take the slower difficult road and pass by and stop and engage them with the power of the gospel, lives will be changed. Jesus himself does not walk physically upon this earth today. But we do. While we do let us tell the story of Jesus and administer the help and forgiveness that Jesus has to offer.