Like Two Ships Passing in the Night? No! Get Involved, Caring for Others
- Summary: Picture yourself walking down a crowded city sidewalk with some friends, when you spot a small, adult man sitting up in a tree looking down at you. If you’re like many, you might hurry on by, ignoring that curious scene and that “strange” man. Well, a similar situation happened to Jesus. How did He handle it? Read the Lord’s response in the verses just below.
Luke 19:1-10 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” ...  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came TO SEEK and to save what was lost.”
- •• Many of us might have glanced up, walked on, and said to our friends, “Hey, did you see that guy up the tree?”
- • But Jesus did not. Rather...
• He interrupted His personal schedule.
• He selflessly took time out from His own plans.
• He refused to be a “ship passing in the night”.
• Why? — because He had come to this earth to SEEK the lost. Jesus came to seek unsaved people, with a view to saving them.
- •• We can be one of two things towards others:
- (1) Ships that pass in the night; or...
(2) Seekers of those who, like Zacchaeus, are wanting to see Jesus.
• We can stay detached, self-absorbed, in our “comfort zones” ... or we can choose to be other-centered and to get involved with people in their needs.
Psalms 102:6-7 I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.  I lie awake; I have become like a bird ALONE on a roof.
Psalms 142:4 Look to my right and see; NO ONE IS CONCERNED FOR ME. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
KJV: “...no man cared for my soul.”
- •• All around us are people who feel like the lonely owl in the desert.
- • Many feel like the “bird alone on the roof”.
• Like Jesus, we should respond with a determination to seek out the lonely, the isolated, the solitary souls, those on the margins of society.
- •• Every day we pass by desperate people, whose hearts are crying, “No one is concerned for me.”
- • We can be like two ships passing in the night, silent, detached, uninvolved.
• OR ... we can decide, “I’LL care; I’LL be concerned.”
• Upon seeing Zacchaeus, Jesus changed His plans and interrupted His schedule to show personal care and concern.
• Feelings of isolation and loneliness can come upon anyone, even near a crowd of people. Like Jesus, let us seek those who are hurting, lonely, and downcast.
Mark 10:46-49 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.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, HAVE MERCY on me!”  Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
- •• Here we see another desperately needy man, the blind beggar who cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”
- • It was the blind man’s need for and appeal for mercy that prompted Jesus to stop.
• It was lack of mercy that made His disciples want to pass him by like ships in the night.
• “Lord, GRANT US MERCY in our hearts, so that we will STOP for the hurting and needy.”
• James 2:13 “...judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”
Acts 3:2-7 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts....  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but WHAT I HAVE I GIVE YOU. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
- •• “What I HAVE I give [to] YOU.”
- • You “have” something — the Holy Spirit in you, the Name of Jesus on your lips, the comfort and compassion of the Lord in your heart, and more. You "have" the God-given means and ability to help others in their needs.
• Like the priest and the Levite (Luke 10:29-37), we can remain self-centered and just pass by the injured man on the other side of the road.
• Or like the Good Samaritan [and like Jesus!], we can choose to be caring people, we can stop, we can take what we have and give it to others. That which we “have” may be our time ... a kind word ... a gift of money or goods ... faith for healing ... prayer for a particular need ... a compassionate ear to hear another’s problems ... and many more such things.
- •• You (1 John 2:20) have the same Holy Spirit anointing Jesus had (Luke 4:18 with Isaiah 61:1-3):
- • to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
• to bring recovery of sight to the blind
• to release the oppressed
• to bind up the brokenhearted
• IF we don’t pass by like ships in the night!
- •• Be looking for those who, like Zacchaeus, are in need.
- • When you see one, stop, get involved, look to the Lord for wisdom on how to help the needy one.
• Following the splendid example of Jesus our Savior, determine never to be a silent ship passing in the night.
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©2004, 2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.