I found something scary in my Bible recently. The first time I noticed it was in Mark 6:48 in the story about Jesus walking on water.
He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them…
What? Jesus saw them struggling, walked all the way out to them and then had intentions of passing them by? Really? But then, I remembered that I had seen this somewhere before….when Jesus was walking with the two men on the road to Emmaus.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. (Luke 24:28 )
Then, I got curious, and I began looking up other references to Jesus passing by (or intending to pass by) someone in need. I found that Jesus passed by his first two disciples:
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36)
…passed by poor Blind Bartimaeus…
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. (Mark 10:46)
…passed by two other blind men…
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out… (Matthew 9:27-34)
…passed by the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years…
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. (Luke 8:42-43)
Just think about it! To be so close to Jesus, to be so close to His truth and His touch and His healing power, and to almost miss it! But we only know these stories, because these people didn’t miss Jesus. How many hundreds or thousands of others who were in need did Jesus pass by? He certainly didn’t heal everyone in Israel or let everyone participate in miracles (like when Peter walked on water).
So why did Jesus do for these what he didn’t do for the rest? If you study each example, I think you’ll find at least one of two common denominators – faith and persistence.
Peter got to walk on water, because he was impulsive enough to ask and because he flat out believed that Jesus could do anything He wanted to do. Jesus revealed Himself to the men on the road to Emmaus because they “urged him strongly” to stay with them. Andrew and the other of John’s disciples got to be Jesus’ first disciples, because they were willing to run after Him and spend time with Him.
Blind Bartimaeus, and the other blind men and the woman with the issue of blood all had to call after Him or chase Him down. They had to believe that He could do something about their infirmity, and then they had to act on that belief. Their faith is implied by their action and their persistence.
If you believe that God is good, you have to believe that Jesus never passed anyone by because He didn’t want to help them. He passed them by as a test to see who they really thought He was and is. If they truly believed that He was God, there’s no way they would allow Him to pass without grabbing hold of Him and pleading for Him to do a miracle.
I said that this was scary, because I wonder how many times Jesus has been near to me when I had a need but failed to call out to Him. How many times would a little persistence or a little more faith have made the difference?
I think I’m often too polite with God. I pray, and nothing happens, so I let it go. But in light of these Scriptures, I now think I’ve often settled too soon. God will forgive our rudeness if we grab hold of Him and won’t let Him go until He blesses us. (Genesis 32:26) He wants to see the depth of our need and the depth of our faith that He can meet it.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)