Common Man

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Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore David himself call Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly. (Mark 12:35-37)

For the past few of weeks or so I have been working through the Gospel of Mark for my early morning quiet time. The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of all the gospel narratives but certainly is packed with presence of God and is described by one commentary as a book that “emphasizes actions and deeds.” We certainly see Jesus as the Son of God always on the go, not only teaching the people who came to listen but also, always One on the move, healing, casting out demons, and performing all sorts of miracles. 

But as we head into chapter eleven, we see things go from warp speed to slow motion. It is here that we see the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, and what I consider most important, the Son of God’s authority being questioned by Israel’s spiritual leaders. They challenged Jesus’ authority by asking Him, “By what authority are you doing these things?” (Mk.11:28) Apparently all His miracles were not enough evidence for the scribes, elders, and chief priests that Jesus came from God, that He indeed is the Son of God. 

In chapter 12 we see Jesus turn on Israel’s spiritual leaders by speaking to them in a parable. He points out in glowing, flowing, eloquent terms just how much the guardians of God’s Word have rejected the truth of the prophets. By verse twelve I think they wanted to strangle Jesus, (lay hands) but put their aggression in check because of their fear of the common man. At that point the judges of Judaism found it easier to walk away and fight another day. But that didn’t stop the theologians from stepping up to the plate and taking a swing at Jesus. The Pharisees to batting practice on Jesus by asking Him to solve the old question about paying taxes. And if that wasn’t enough, the Sadducees got in on the act concerning the resurrection, followed by a second round with the scribes. Apparently, getting a beatdown by Jesus the first time wasn’t enough for them but by verse 34 they all realize that, “no one dared question Him.” By the time we read verses 35-37 we notice Jesus goes on the offense to deal with the scribes. We all understand that the scribes were the experts in God’s Law, the Old Testament. They were the lawyers of the day, the ones who interpreted all that was written by God. They were the “go to” men who had all the answers to your most difficult questions concerning how to interpret the Old Testament writings. But Jesus took the time to slow down and school these intellectual elites of His day in order to give the common man an opportunity to feel gladness.

The phrase found in verse 37, “And the common people heard Him gladly,” is very revealing. It tells a story about the vast majority of people who sit in the pew, who have modest means, education, and influence. But they knew what it meant to have their spiritual life sucked out of them through rules and regulations that God Himself never intended them to keep. 

Then we see the Carpenter turned Rabbi come on the scene; healing the hurting, feeding the hungry, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and in the end-gladness of heart. 

The word “gladly” found in verse 34 basically means pleasure. It was a pleasure to listen to Jesus, it was a pleasure to see Him put these “perceived masters of their universe” in their place by revealing just how spiritually blind and deaf they were. It was a pleasure to witness the Q and A time where the lords of spiritual logic were left with no more than blank stares and gaping mouths. What a sight that must have been. I’m taking pleasure in just imagining it in my own mind. Why? Because I take pleasure in every word that comes out of Jesus’ mouth. The fact is I identify with the common man, because I am one. I don’t want to be identified with the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests, and elders of Israel. They were the spiritual masters that enslaved the people with laws that God never wrote, with words He never spoke, and by doing so they drained the very gladness, the very joy of life that Jesus came to give. 

The common man is the everyday Joe and Joeann who is trying to scratch out a life on this blue ball we call earth. The vast majority just want to live, make a living, obey the laws, get along with their neighbors, and live safely. The common man may be the majority, but that doesn’t make them less intelligent, less important, less human. Poor doesn’t make you a bad person any more than having an eighth-grade education makes you less intelligent. Over the years I have meant plenty of people who were affluent and educated and still demonstrated an absence of morality and mental aptitude. 

I find it interesting that Jesus came to the common man with a ministry of forgiveness, comfort, healing, and the message of living the abundant life (John 10:10). He tells His listeners, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) That doesn’t mean that He didn’t care about their sins, their lack of good judgment, their propensity for doing wrong verses doing right. He knew the woman at the well way before they spoke to one another, yet he was happy to engage her in meaningful conversation. He brought the conversation around to deal with her sinfulness but never called her what she was… a sinner. I am convinced she knew exactly what she was, but she didn’t know Jesus. I also believe that by the time their conversation ended she was filled with gladness as she went back to her village to tell the rest of the common man about what this Rabbi from Galilee shared with her. 

Are your hearts filled with gladness today? Are you a common man, woman, or child who gladly hears Jesus today? I don’t know what you are dealing with or going through at the moment, but I know the One who can fill your heart with gladness and that is my prayer for you today.

This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you Joy in Jesus!