Jesus Is Passing By
August 4th, 1963 @ 7:30 PM
JESUS IS PASSING BY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-4-63 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled Jesus is Passing By. In our Bibles let us turn to Luke, the Third Gospel, chapter 18; beginning at verse 31; we read to the end of the chapter. And you who listen on the radio, get your Bible, open your Bible with us to the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, and we shall read our passage together. Luke chapter 18, beginning at verse 31, reading to the end of the chapter. And if your neighbor does not have his Bible, share your Bible with him, and all of us read it out loud together. Luke 18:31:
Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.
For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
And they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.
And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
And it came to pass, that as He was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:
And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
And he cried, saying, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him: and when he was come near, He asked him,
Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
And could I add the first verse of the following chapter: “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho” [Luke 19:1]. So you have the story of our Lord, as for the last time He passed that way. And our text is the answer to this blind man Bartimaeus, when he asked, “What is this tumult and commotion and throng that I hear?” and they told him that “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by” [Luke 18:36-37].
This is a story that happened at the close of our ministry, of the ministry of our Lord. When He made His last journey to Jerusalem, at the time of His death, He began through Samaria, and went through Galilee, and crossed the Jordan into Berea, and then back across the Jordan westward, and to Jericho, then up by Bethlehem, by Bethany and the Mount of Olives, and so into Jerusalem. This is the last time that our Lord ever passed this way.
When He came to Jerusalem, He was arrested [Matthew 26:57], He was crucified, and He died [Matthew 27:32-50]. This was the only time, the only opportunity therefore, for this blind man to make appeal to the Lord Jesus for the healing of his blind eyes. And standing or sitting by the roadside, as the road led into Jericho, he asked what was the noise and the commotion, and they told him that it was Jesus who was passing by. And this blind man took advantage of the opportunity of the proximity and nearness of our Savior and pled for the opening of his blind eyes [Luke 18:35-39].
Many of you have visited in the Near East and in the East. There is not a commoner sight in any of those cities than the sight of the beggar begging; and so many of them blind, pitifully blind, pitifully poor. The poverty and the want and the wretchedness of those people is beyond anything that we could describe. We do not know poverty in America as it is in those great cities of the Near East and the Far East, and their pitiful condition breaks your heart as you hear them cry and as you look upon them. I remember near where this happened. Our car stopped and a blind man, so wretchedly poor and so filthily dressed in rags, a blind man felt his way until he came to the front, the radiator of the car, and then feeling his way up to the windows, and then back to the front window, and all the time as he felt of the car and then coming to the window where he knew we were seated, saying in the most pathetic tone of voice, “Blind, blind, blind, blind, blind.” Oh, that you had the power, that God would give us the gift of being able to make blind eyes see! It was such an outpouring that Bartimaeus asked, hoped for, requested.
“What is this noise,” he said? And they replied, “Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth, is passing by.” And that blind man had heard of the miraculous power of the Son of God, and he cried aloud as the throng went by, “O Jesus, Son of David, remember me, have mercy on me” [Luke 18:38]. And those who stood by in their hardness of heart––because they become inured to the sight of poverty, and disease, and leprosy, and blindness, and wretchedness, and the people do not notice it––when they saw what that blind man was doing, and heard what he was saying, why, those that went before that commotion as the Lord passed by, that throng going before, said to that blind man, “Shut your mouth. Hush up! Hush up! There’s no time for you in the life of our Lord” [Luke 18:39]. Look at Him. They thought He was going up to Jerusalem to depose the Roman procurator, and to be crowned King over Israel, and to take unto Himself great power and subdue the nations of the earth. He had great business at hand, they thought. And they cried back at that blind man and said, “Hush up! Shut up!” They rebuked him that he should hold his peace and be quiet [Luke 18:39].
But that blind man cried out so much the more, the louder, and the more earnestly, importunately, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me, remember me” [Luke 18:39]. And when Jesus came there where he stood by the side of the road, He stopped and having heard his voice, asked the blind man to be brought to Him [Luke 18:40]. And when blind Bartimaeus came near, somebody, leading him by the hand, brought him to Jesus. The Lord said, “What wilt thou that I do for thee?” And he said, “O Lord, that I could see, that I might receive my sight” [Luke 18:41]. And Jesus said unto him, “Thy faith hath saved thee. Receive thy sight” [Luke 18:42]. And immediately he saw, and followed Jesus, glorifying God. And when the people saw it, they gave praise to the Lord [Luke 18:43]. Oh, what a blessed story!
Now my text: “And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by” [Luke 18:37]. That text is not only true in the days of His flesh when the Lord walked down the highways, and the byways, and in the villages, and in the cities of the people, healing all that were distressed [Luke 18:42], casting out vile and filthy demons [Mark 5:1-15], and opening the eyes of the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], and cleansing the leper [Luke 5:12-13], and forgiving sin [Mark 2:5-10]. That’s not only true in the days of our Lord, in the story of His life; it is true today [1 John 1:9].
Our Lord passes through time and through the centuries, and He passes by our house and our lives. The Lord Jesus passes by. As He passes through the days and the centuries and the years, there are three different ways that He is received, as Jesus is brought nigh to us. One, and first, and gladly, and with thanksgiving: there are those who through the centuries, as Jesus passes by, there are those who receive Him in faith, and in acceptance, and in love, and in adoration [Acts 16:31]. O blessed Lord Jesus, passing by, come into my house. Shelter beneath my roof. Sit Thou at our table. Break bread with us. Be a guest in our home [Revelation 3:20]. And Lord Jesus, come into my soul and my heart and my life. Share with me my business, and my interests, and all of the love of my days. Welcome, Lord Jesus, welcome.
There are those who through the centuries have thus received our blessed Savior, in gladness, in joy, and in faith—from the days when John the Baptist introduced Him, and John and Andrew heard that introduction [John 1:35-50], and they went to visit with the Lord Jesus and received Him as their Lord and Messiah, and the Lord passing by, and calling other disciples, and other families; and then through the centuries since, those who have trusted in the Lord.
And upon a day the Lord Jesus passed by real close to me when I was a boy. And He knocked at the door of my heart, and I received Him as my Savior, as He passed by, close to my house and close to my heart [Acts 16:31; Romans 10:8]. And one of the indescribable, incomparable joys of the ministry of my life in these thirty and five and six years, has been the wonderful, wonderful gladness of presenting the Lord Jesus passing by, and these who are accepting Him and receiving Him as their Savior.
This missionary here from Japan, soon going back to his place of duty and assignment; in the southern part of Kyushu, there is a little village––to them a village, it’s a town of about fifty thousand people named Ijuin, way down there south in the Kagoshima Prefecture. And I held a meeting in Ijuin. I was left there by the missionary. Had no word of Japanese I could speak, they knew no word of English.
So our mediator, our translator and interpreter was the English teacher in the high school, and he had repudiated all of the pagan gods of Japan that he knew, and he was an avowed atheist. He was not a Shintoist. He was not a Buddhist. He was not a Confucianist. He had repudiated all of the gods he’d ever been taught in Japan, and he was an atheist. That man was my translator when I preached the gospel of the grace of the Son of God in Ijuin. And when I had my last service, when I had my last service, God blessing every one of them, as you would know how God can bless, in the message in Japan, in my last service, after I had done and preached my sermon, the English professor, the English teacher turned to me, and he said, “I want you to know that tonight I not only believe in God, but I accept the Lord Jesus as my Savior.” Oh, what a blessedness, what a blessedness!
When I held a service closing the Southern Baptist Convention one year in San Francisco, there was a multitude who came down those aisles, hundreds of them, hundreds of them, accepting the Lord as Savior, and giving their lives to Jesus. And in the midst of my appeal, the man who was running the P.A. system, a great big instrumental panel over there to my right, he came out from his panel and around the front and stopped the service and said, “I want everybody to know, that listening to the message of Christ over that P.A. system and that panel, I’ve been saved. And tonight I too accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.”
Why, this morning, seated there on that front row, there must have been eight or nine accepting the Lord as their Savior, almost all of them baptized, following the Lord Jesus through the waters of the Jordan tonight [Matthew 3:13-17]. And God will bless this message again. When I give an appeal, every time I preach, I believe God will honor it with a harvest. And God will honor it tonight with a harvest; just wait and see, just wait and see. That is the blessedness of the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God, when the Lord passes by and He knocks at the house, and He knocks at the door, and He knocks at the soul, and He knocks at the life [Revelation 3:20], there’re always those who will say, “Blessed, blessed Lord Jesus, welcome, come in, come in.” Jesus of Nazareth is passing by [Luke 18:37].
Then of course, from the beginning there have been those who have violently rejected our Lord. With vicious, vengeful spirit they have repudiated and denied everything that is witnessed of our wonderful Savior. There was Annas and Caiaphas in the days of His flesh [Matthew 26:57-67]. There was Demetrius the silversmith in the days of Paul [Acts 19:24-41]. There was Celsus in the days of Justin Martyr. There have been Nietzsche’s philosophers through the years who have spurned and scorned and ridiculed in Voltaireian and Ingersoll language, the claims of our Christ.
And today, there are whole vast systems of government that are built upon the repudiation of our Lord and the denial of the grace of the Son of God in Christ Jesus. And all of us are familiar with that through the days, and the centuries, and this present hour; the violent rejection of the Savior.
I saw a cartoon that was brought by a man out of Soviet Russia. On the lower part of that cartoon, the man had drawn, the Soviet atheist had drawn churches that the workmen of Russia had knocked down with hammers. And there in the middle of a cartoon was a ladder leaning up against a cloud, and up there on top of the cloud was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And there was a Soviet workman with a hammer who’d climbed to the top of that cloud and was holding it back. And underneath, written in that language of Russia that this missionary interpreted to me, underneath were written the words, “We have killed God down here in the earth. Now we’re going to kill the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in heaven.” Oh, such blasphemous things! That’s true in our world today; as Jesus of Nazareth passeth by, a violent and a blasphemous repudiation.
Then there’s a third, there is a third reception of the Lord as He passes by, and that third reception is we just let Him pass, just let Him pass. One: just letting Him pass in a colossal, illimitable, immeasurable indifference; couldn’t be more indifferent, couldn’t care less, just let Him pass! Out of my life, out of my vision, out of my horizon, out of my plans, out of my dreams, out of my future, out of my destiny, let Him pass with vast, cool indifference, calculated uninterest.
I’ve often wondered, the scribes: how can you understand the psychology and the mind of men like this? When the wise men came from afar [Matthew 2:1], asking, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:2], and those scribes searching the Scriptures said, “In Bethlehem, in Bethlehem” [Matthew 2:3-5], and the wise men followed the star to Bethlehem [Matthew 2:9-11], how far was that away from Jerusalem?
There are those who do not realize. They don’t realize, in their indifference and their unconcern and their engrossment with things of this life and this world, they don’t realize, O God, the Holy Spirit would awaken their hearts. Jesus is here. Jesus is passing by. Our Savior and our hope, He now is here. Oh, listen to His voice! Open your heart to His appeal. Jesus passes by [Luke 18:37].
One of the powerful things that Moody one time described: in a Pennsylvania penitentiary, there was a man who was assigned to die, and he was awaiting electrocution. And appeal was made to a governor by the name of Pollock, Governor Pollock, and the governor was a fine Christian man. But the man who was to be electrocuted had been condemned as guilty of a heinous and a terrible crime, and the governor refused to pardon him. But the appeal was continually made, and finally, because the man, the governor, was a good man, he went to the warden of the penitentiary, and he said, he said, “I want to see this man, but I don’t want you to tell him who I am. I want you to lock me up in the cell with him on the death row and let me talk to him a while.” And so the warden opened the door on death row, and he put the governor of the state in the cell with that man, and the governor talked to him.
The man was recalcitrant, he was obstreperous, he was proud and unbending in his will, and there was nothing broken in him, nothing repentant in him, nothing of godliness and God-wardness in him. And after the governor talked to him a while, why, he gave the signal, and the warden opened the door, and the governor passed away, walked away. And after he was gone, why, the prisoner made a noise on the gate, on the door, and the warden came, and the prisoner said, “Who was that lout? Who was that guy, come in here talking to me about this and that and the other? Who was that fellow? Insulted by him! Why should a fellow come in at this time and talk to me about things of life, and of God, and of goodness, and righteousness? Why? Who was that guy?” said the fellow in death row.
And the warden said, “It’ll surprise you when I tell you who he is. That’s the governor of the state of Pennsylvania. That was Governor Pollock,” and you can imagine the cry of remorse wrested from the self-condemned voice and life of that prisoner. “Oh, God! And that was the governor! Oh, God! Had I known it, I’d have fallen down at his feet and cried and begged for mercy.” The Lord passeth by; Jesus of Nazareth passeth by [Luke 18:37].
And these appeals and the voice of our Lord grows fainter, and fainter, and fainter, and fainter. I’ve always been persuaded that in the life of every man, at some time there has been a powerful appeal from God. And the man cries, and he bows, and he’s broken, and the Spirit of the Lord wrestles with his soul [John 16:8]. When the Holy Spirit calls, that’s the time to answer [2 Corinthians 6:2]. Every time you say no, it’s easier to say no the next time, until finally, saying no, your life becomes a negation itself. And the voice of our Lord, and the vision of our Lord, and the appeal of our Lord, and the invitation of our Lord becomes fainter, and fainter, and fainter, and fainter, until finally you don’t hear His voice at all. You could sit and listen to a thousand sermons and be unmoved. You could listen to a thousand invitations and never respond. Your heart becomes calloused. It becomes like stone in your body. O God! “Now is the day of salvation; now is the accepted time” [2 Corinthians 6:2]. In the season of mercy and grace, Jesus is passing by [Luke 18:37]. For salvation in time and place, Jesus is passing by: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” [2 Corinthians 6:2].
And while we sing this appeal, and while our people prayerfully wait in the presence of the Lord, somebody you tonight, taking Jesus as Savior, come and stand by me. In this balcony round, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front: “Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to God, and here I stand. Here I come. I feel the presence and call of Jesus here tonight, and I respond with my life. I take Him as my Savior. Here I am” [Ephesians 2:8]. As the Spirit of God shall open the door and lead the way, in any way the Lord would lay upon your heart this appeal, make it now while the Savior is close by, while the Lord is near. Make it tonight. Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
JESUS IS PASSING BY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-4-63I. The story
A. The road – Perea, Jordan, Jericho, Jerusalem
B. The blind man begging – Bartimaeus
C. His one great opportunity – Jesus of Nazareth is passing by
1. Told to hush his crying; he cried out all the more
2. The Lord asked him what he cried for
3. His sight and salvationII. The application
A. Jesus has been passing by through the centuries, and today
1. Some receive Him gladly
a. Japanese translator
b. Southern Baptist Convention, San Francisco
2. Some violently reject Him
a. Soviet Russia
3. Some just let Him pass by
a. Colossal indifference
i. The wise men and the king (Matthew 2:2)
b. Do not realize
i. Governor Pollock
i. Now is the time (2 Corinthians 6:2)