In April of this year, cyclist Lance Armstrong came through North Georgia when he participated in the Tour de Georgia. It was meant to be a tune-up for another run at the Tour de France title. At the time, he was the reigning six-time title holder of the Tour de France. That fact alone was enough to draw major media coverage, but when he also announced he would be retiring from cycling and this would be his last year, our little part of the world drew vast attention. Cities began preparation to host the crowds that would fill the streets in hopes of getting just a momentary glimpse of the cycling legend. Hotels were booked to capacity, and airline flight lists were on standby. In fact, the executive director of the race made this comment, “we had 250,000 spectators last year, and Lance alone will probably take us over a million this year.” Everyone who assembled along the route knew with words of retirement being whispered, this could be their only chance to see him because he might never pass that way again.
Just what are the signs and evidence of a heaven-rending, God breathed revival? Revival in our day is defined by numbers. If the revenue is up, we’ve had revival. If a novelty preacher fills the seats, we’ve had revival. If a contractor erects another building, we’ve had revival. Should numbers truly be the means God uses to reveal revival, would we not be better off to expect His subtractions rather than His additions? We have the statistics of revival, but do we really know what it costs? At best, our generation can only give a “holy guess” to the question, because we have not seen it. We say we can describe what revival smells like, feels like, and tastes like, but do we really know how it comes? Today, revival has many faces and forms, but they are never lasting because it must be manipulated to be maintained. When revival is real, it is dependent upon one thing. Several Gospel writers described it this way: “…Jesus passed by.” Such a manifestation could not be bought or wrought! During His earthly ministry, there were some places Jesus only passed by once. The occasion is rare, but the opportunity is redefining. Consider with me the elements present when Jesus passes by.
For some, it is a matchless opportunity. Mark 2:14 records, “..as He passed by, He saw Levi…”
Literally, Jesus drew closer to get a more intimate view. As a tax collector, Levi had a secure position in the world. Money ran through his fingertips in unimaginable sums. What more could he of asked for in life? It was then that Jesus passed by, and in that momentary meeting a promotion was offered with no time to ponder and question. Such an invitation would call for swift action in letting go of what he had. For Levi, there was no comparison! Far too many Christians hit an early plateau in their journey.
Perhaps the reason is due to the fact we are afraid to let go of life that we might fully grasp all of Jesus.
Adrian Rogers has said, “we have no right to be believed as long as we can be explained.” The woman at the well left her waterpot. Mary of Bethany broke the perfume bottle. Bartimaeus gladly traded what he had for what he really needed. When Jesus passes by, it is all or nothing with Him!
For some, it is a multiplied opportunity. In I Kings 19:11,12, “..the Lord passed by..” Elijah, and a domino effect of events followed in His wake. A strong wind broke the mountain and rocks, and was immediately followed by an earthquake and a fire. The Scripture then tells us “the Lord was not in” those events, but one thing is certain, when the Lord passes by, the landscape will never be the same again! When a rock is thrown into the water, long after the rock has disappeared from view, the ripples will continue on the surface. When “Jesus passed by” the blind man in John 9, the resulting miracle touched his neighbors, his parents, the entire synagogue, and the Pharisees. That is why when Jesus truly passes by, it will cause both rejoicing and rioting…sometimes simultaneously! Who can measure the far-reaching effects to a life when Jesus passes by?
But, for others, it is a missed opportunity. In Mark 6, Jesus walks on the stormy sea of Galilee, and while the disciples are toiling with the oars, we are told Jesus “…would have passed by them.” They nearly missed their miracle! I cannot help but wonder how many times we may have stood on the brink of the promise land of miracle and blessing, but a giant passed by before we were able to see Jesus pass by? A giant will always test the legitimacy of our desires and the loyalty of our devotion. You can be sure that lasting revival will never be experienced if we long for the harvest of revival more than the Harvester of revival. I would say John 8:59 was not the last time “Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”
In Mark 5, Jesus “passed over” the sea of Galilee where the streets were lined with crowds wanting to see His miracles. But, in the crowd was a woman with an issue of blood who needed a miracle. For her, it was no time to be timid or scared. Her miracle was just inches away, and He might not ever pass her way again. She reached and was rewarded. If only Jesus would pass by one more time!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© Alan Stewart, 2005.
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.