Jesus did some amazing things when he set out to do them. I’m always intrigued, however, at the incidental things he did—things he didn’t set out to do.
Early on, we learn that Jesus “set his face” toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). This simply meant he was resolute on getting to the Holy City. We know, from Palm Sunday forward, what he did after he arrived there. We commemorate these events every year during Holy Week. But the off-road things that happened along the way were quite astounding as well.
Consider the story of Blind Bartimaeus. Jesus left Jericho, heading out toward Jerusalem. A blind man was sitting along side the road, begging for sustenance. When he heard Jesus was passing by, he began screaming for Jesus to help him. The crowd attempted to shut him up, but he just yelled all the more.
He Wanted a Healing Experience
When Jesus heard Bartimaeus, he stopped, called him over, and asked the man what he wanted. The man wanted to be healed of his blindness, of course, and Jesus did just that. Having been cured, Bartimaeus began following as Jesus continued his trek toward Jerusalem.
This is merely one of many such incidents that occurred as Jesus traveled from town to town, village to village, and city to city. People approached him with their problems and their curiosities. Some did so in a bold manner. Others were more timid. Still, others attempted to do so reluctantly or even secretly.
The great thing about Jesus is that he usually made time for all these interruptions. The reason seems to be that, to him, they were not mere interruptions in his daily routine. They were people…people who needed help…people who needed a Messiah.
Maybe Our Greatest Challenge
Jesus made no bones about why he was here. He flat-out stated he had to preach the good news saying emphatically, “That is why I was sent.” (Luke 4:42-44) His mission was not to physically heal people, cast out their demons, or raise them from the dead. Still, he did these things and more. He did them almost incidentally, out of compassion for the human condition. He was not some mechanical god who came, fulfilled his assignment, and headed back home. He personally touched lives along the way—many lives.
This just might be our greatest challenge as we endeavor to follow Jesus in this life. As we strive to be more Christ-like, the one thing we can readily do is touch lives along the way. Yet, it might be the one thing we most often fail to do.
Our life and pilgrimage is a journey. As we travel the highways and byways of our earthly existence, we are interrupted—often far more than we’d like. The question for us then becomes, do we see these interruptions as off road experiences with Jesus, or mere annoyances to be sloughed off or dismissed summarily.
Interruptions are often people who need us—people who need a Messiah. Will they find him in you and me? I certainly hope so.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]