If you take the time to read the New Testament, you could do a check on the various stories of when Jesus meets up with individuals.
You would discover something quite fascinating. Out of the 132 contacts he had, 6 were in the Temple, 4 were in a synagogue, and 122 were out in the mainstream of life. That says something very significant to me. Jesus loved to mix with ordinary people like villagers, carpenters, farmers, parents, and children.
There wasn’t anything remarkable about these folk—no spark that would draw attention to them in 1st century Palestine. They slept, worked, interacted with their family and community. There was the upper class. The upper class was made up of the temple priests. The middle class was comprised of traders and merchants, artisans (stonecutters, masons, sculptors) and craftsmen (metal, wood, cloth dye). The pharisees (another Jewish sect), sages, scribes and teachers were also a part of the middle class. The lower class was made of labourers—weavers, stone carriers, slaves (non-Jewish person taken into slavery because of debt)—, and the unemployable—lepers, blind, mentally-ill, and crippled. Jesus had the ability to mix with all 3 classes. He met them in the routine of daily life. He met them where they were, and had an amazing impact.
Back in 2005, U2‘s lead singer Bono had been declared one of Time magazine’s ‘Persons of the Year’. Christianity Today remarked that Bono had made a helpful statement about Jesus. Bono had said, “Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? For me it means a study of the life of Christ. Love describes itself as a child born in straw poverty—the most vulnerable situation of all, without honour. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated.”
The Perfect Preacher
In Mark’s gospel we read in 12:33, “the common people heard Him gladly”. Other translations say, “the great throng heard Him gladly”; “the large crowd enjoyed listening to Jesus teach”. Jesus had this wonderful ability to speak simply, and to summarise important truths in a way that everyone could understand. So there was this amazing appeal about Jesus—he made sense. He was the perfect preacher. He appealed to everyone, young and old—talking to people where they were, not where he wanted them to be. He could answer the deepest questions and explain eternal truths. The phrase ‘common people’ is translated from the Greek word ‘ocholos’ which means ‘a casual collection of people—common people as opposed to the rulers and leading men’. They were often referred to as ‘the ignorant multitude’—an unfortunate phrase I might add.
He used simple and ordinary language in Aramaic, which most understood. As we would say today, “He called a spade a spade”. He spoke the truth, which got him into trouble with the scribes and pharisees—a powerful group who loved to walk around in long robes and treat others harshly. But Jesus clashed with them calling them hypocrites. Immediately he was a marked man. They did everything they could to maintain an outward show of goodness and respectability. But Jesus knew their hearts and condemned them. They weren’t interested—they avoided the common people like the plague, while Jesus went out of his way to greet them, as they sensed his love and compassion. It was authentic.
He wasn’t afraid to reach out to a woman possessed by a demon, a man infected with leprosy, and a woman guilty of adultery. When adults told him to stop wasting time on children, he rebuked them and spoke with the little children. If others were hungry, he miraculously provided for their physical needs. No wonder he said of himself, “The Son of Man came to look for and save people who are lost” (Luke 19:10).
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Luke tells us, “each day Jesus kept on teaching in the Temple. But the chief priests, teachers of the Law of Moses and some other important people tried to have Him killed. But they couldn’t find a way to do it, because everyone else was eager to listen to Him” (19:47). “Jesus taught in the Temple each day. Everyone got up early and came to the Temple to hear Him teach” (21: 37-38). Matthew says that when he taught, he taught like someone with authority, not like their teachers of the Law of Moses.
The poor especially connected with Jesus, because he was one of them. Paul said, “our Lord Jesus Christ was kind enough to give up all His riches and become poor” (2 Cor 8:9).