Since I travel by public transportation, I have come to know the habits of the buses and trains. Now, if I were in Ecuador, the buses would stop for me no matter where I was along the route. But here in Boston, if there is one thing to learn, it’s that the buses will not stop at all for you if you are not at the bus stop. That’s a rule, and their bosses are watching them, so they stick by it.
The other day I was leaving to catch a bus around the corner. I have an application for my smartphone that tells me exactly when the bus is going to arrive. I knew I was running it close. In fact, I thought I was going to miss it, so I left my house on a mild jog to see if I could catch it.
As I was turned the corner to the last hundred feet or so, my heart dropped. There was the bus, zooming past the bus stop, coming toward me. I missed it.
My heart dropped. I’m sure my face dropped. I started to slow down. It would be another hour for the next bus, unless I decided to walk the half hour to the train station. But it must have been that the driver noticed that I was running, because an amazing thing happened: the bus pulled over for me – in between stops.
Well, my heart picked up. I’m sure I had a smile on my face. I thanked the bus driver. Even though I was behind schedule, he cut me a break and he stopped in between stops. You know, that gave me a lift that I carried with me throughout the day. I can still feel it when I remember it and tell the story.
I say that because we have stops every day in our lives, places to go and things to do and people to meet. But when we make stops for others outside our bus stops, it’s there that we can lift others up.
Jesus was making his last trip of his life. He made a stop in Jericho and was going to his next stop in Bethany. As he was leaving Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus, called out to him. Now, Jesus was a man on a mission, and nothing was going to stop him from it. But even though he had a schedule to keep and places to be, he did something extraordinary. “Jesus stopped.” (Mk 10:49) Well, Bartimaeus jumps up, comes to Jesus, asks for – and gets – his sight, and then he gets on the bus: he follows Jesus in the way. He must have been real excited and told a lot of people, because his name is known to the disciples and included in the Gospels. You get your sight back, your life is changed. And it’s all because Jesus stopped.
Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man is lying on the side of the road, and two of the religious leaders pass by without stopping. Finally, the Samaritan sees him on the way and stops. You know the rest of the story. The Samaritan saves the man’s life because he stopped. But you may not know that it also happens to be the same road between Jerusalem and Jericho. The Samaritan stopped in between bus stops. But along the way between the Temple and heaven, in between stops, Jesus is going to stop. He is going to stop on Calvary. He is going to stop into death.
It’s because there are people there that have missed the bus on eternal life and that are hoping that the driver will cut them a break when passing by. And stop for them.
And that’s what Jesus does for us. Though we may feel that life hasn’t turned out all the way we expected, that something in our heart tells us we’ve missed out on something through our own fault, even if we can’t put a finger on it, this is what the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus is about. This is what tonight and this weekend is about:
Jesus is stopping for us.