Jump Start # 2290
Mark 12:37 “David himself calls Him ‘Lord:’ and so in what sense is He his son?” And the great crowd enjoyed listening to Him.”
Our passage comes from the temple teachings of Jesus. He began with a question, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?” Having quoted a passage, Jesus repeated the question, “In what sense is He his son?” The answer is not given. A thought is created. A dilemma. It was time to put on the thinking caps. If the Christ is before David, how could He be his son? This was not a riddle. This was not a thought to stump the audience. This had everything to do with Jesus being both Lord and Christ. Eternal, as God, and in line to the throne, David’s throne.
But what I find interesting is how Mark ends this passage. The great crowd enjoyed listening to Him. The ESV translates this: “And the great throng heard him gladly.” I like what we find in the KJV. There it reads, “And the common people heard him gladly.” The word “common” does not mean ordinary but large. It was a massive group of people that heard Jesus. The crowds around the Jewish leaders were shrinking, but around Jesus, the crowds were swelling.
But, there remains the sense in which it was truly the ordinary, common person that came to hear Jesus. It was the fishermen. It was merchants. It was parents with sick children. It was day laborers. Jesus was not found giving academic lectures to a group of scholars. His lessons illustrate this. The prayer that He taught His disciples to pray, is short. Short in length and filled with common words. His parables, His sermon on the mount, were directed to the everyday person. Stories that they could relate to. Stories that they could remember. Lessons that hit them personally and to the heart. Things that all could understand and all could use.
I was looking at a PhD thesis from the University of Glasgow. The title was: “The soteriological significance of the cross of Jesus: metaphor, meaning and salvation.” It was actually a pretty good piece about the symbolism of the cross. But that title is enough to choke on. I expect if my opening PowerPoint slide on Sunday read, “The soteriological significance of the cross,” the congregation would take up a quick collection to send me on a one-way vacation. Jesus understood His audience. He knew where people were and how to connect with them. The depth of Jesus is not in the use of big words or a large vocabulary, but in the priceless meaning of His message. A friend went to hear someone preach. The preacher was a real intellectual. The thought was that you needed a Bible in one hand and a dictionary in the other. I asked my friend what he got from the lesson. His response was it was impressive. “I don’t know what he said, but it was impressive.” We preachers need to remember who is in our audiences. We stand before the lost. We preach to truck drivers, nurses, moms, as well as engineers and doctors. We preach to an audience that thrives on bullet points, visual images, and short text messages.
Three thoughts come from this:
First, Jesus surrounded Himself with the common people. This was His audience. The parables connected so well, because that was the lives of His audience. They were sowers. They were servants. They were common laborers. Certainly the Jewish hierarchy stood in the audience, but so did the guy who dug wells, built fences, and traveled the same road that the good Samaritan did. Good people. Moms and dads. Hard working people. Jesus learned the trade of a carpenter, a common laborer. Paul, as well as Aquila and Priscilla, were tent makers.
I wonder if sometimes we preachers spend so much time in our offices reading academic dissertations that we no longer know what runs through the mind and the heart of our audience. We are consumed with the date and authorship of Daniel and the audience that we stand before is worried about affording their kid’s braces. We want to teach a quarter of classes exploring the development and changes of Calvinistic thought from the reformation to modern days, and what folks are hoping for is a practical class on dealing with discouragement. We are not encouraging “dumbing down,” but rather speak to where the people are and speak in such a way that it is helpful to them. Have you ever considered what is keeping folks up at night? It’s not concern about the differences between Premillennial and Postmillennial doctrines. It’s money. It’s raising kids. It’s marriage. It’s jobs. It’s life. It’s guilt. It’s worry. It’s fear. And, have you ever noticed that those are the very topics that Jesus addresses over and over.
Second, the common people heard Him. There is a difference in hearing and understanding. We can hear things, but we may not know what a person is talking about. I have become part of a very medical family. My wife is a nurse. My daughter is a nurse. My daughter-in-law is a nurse. My son is about to become a nurse practitioner. When we go out to eat I ask for two tables. One for me and the other for the medical convention held by my family. When they talk medical, there are times I have no idea what part of the body they are talking about. The common people heard Jesus. Nehemiah tells us that they read from the book from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading (Neh 8:8). They understood. Depth is great. I love to lower the nets, but one must do so in such a way that the audience understands. The challenge to the teacher is to make difficult things simple. The common person in the audience today really doesn’t care all that much about what Greek word is used. He wants to know how he can take that passage and live it everyday to please the Lord. Sermons without application are nothing more than lectures. If a lesson is not practical, what use is it?
Third, the common people heard Jesus gladly. There was a sense of joy. Jesus was fresh, new and so different from the rest of the rabbis. They were long, dry and loved to quote old dead authors. We must not follow that direction. They loved to hear Jesus. It wasn’t because He tickled ears, because He didn’t. But they could see what He was saying. They could remember what He was saying. They could use what He was saying.
I wonder if we have that same gladness in our hearts? Do we love to read the Bible? Do we love to hear sermons? Do we assemble out of duty or out of joy? Do we hang on to the words of God or is the message forgotten by the time we sit down to eat lunch?
The common man heard Him gladly. What a powerful compliment to the greatest preacher of all time.