Mark 15 says two kinds of people happened to pass by Jesus on the morning of his crucifixion. The first was Simon of Cyrene, “the father of Alexander and Rufus,” who “was passing by on his way in from the country” (15:21). The Son of God who had urged his followers to take up their cross was too gashed to carry his. So the soldiers “forced [Simon] to carry the cross.” If Simon is the father of Rufus in Romans 16:13, it’s likely that he later became a follower of Jesus. What an honor to serve his Savior!

The other group were hecklers. “Those who passed by” saw Jesus hanging on the cross and “hurled insults at him” (15:29). How they must regret that now! They had done what was customary—insult the crucified—but why had they joined in? This wasn’t their fight. Why hadn’t they walked on by? Better yet, why hadn’t they risked it all and yelled encouragement? Why hadn’t they taken the measure of the moment and cheered Jesus on?

Much of life happens when we’re just passing by. Most of today’s events you will neither plan nor initiate. You’ll receive a text, encounter a problem, or notice a social media post. Your response as a passerby will be spontaneous and reflexive, and so will reveal your true self.

This post may be one of those moments. The eternal God dwells outside of time, so he can hear and respond in the past to prayers made in the future. If this is true, then it’s entirely possible that our prayers of gratitude do more than thank our dying Lord after the fact. They may encourage him in the act. Don’t pass by. Let him know how you feel.








2 responses to “Passersby”

  1. Dr. Wittmer,
    This is so good! Life is always passing us by and we can honor others or heckle them. I was just thinking yesterday that our culture needs to move away from reviews and ratings— especially regarding people. The value of a person or professional is significantly eroded when we give them a rating or a (usually negative) review. I think it would help us to err on the side of encouragement, especially as Christians passing by (and no, I don’t mean that the way Plato did!).
    With that, I give your post a 5.0. Just kidding!
    It’s always good to hear your thoughts and insight. He is risen!

  2. Tim Miskimen

    Your perspective on the interplay between time-space humans, prayer, and the Creator of time is intriguing. If prayers of gratitude 2,000 years later would encourage Christ on the cross, should we pray for relatives who have already died without Christ? Or practice baptism for the dead? God and His interactions “in time” is a fascinating topic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: