“And the common people heard Him gladly.”
A few words to encourage the souls of them that publish Christ
I write these words to minister to the hearts of those involved in publishing Christ to the world. By “publish” I mean any and all who proclaim Jesus Christ. You may do so from a pulpit. You may do so also as a teacher, a neighbor, an employee, a friend, a father or mother, a son or daughter, a young man or woman, or an aged saint in the faith. You may do so as a writer, a blogger, a singer or an artist. Proclaiming Christ is the business of every Christian, but there is a great variety in the manner and method which the Lord has equipped believers to do so. And all who publish Christ meet with discouragements along the way, and these words are intended for your comfort.
In this passage Christ was being published and proclaimed, by none other than Christ Himself. He proclaimed Himself in a parable in the beginning of the chapter. He proclaimed Himself by a puzzle in the immediate context of our passage. Jesus said “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?” He set their minds to thinking about Christ. Is that not what you have done? You write of Him, you speak of Him, you try to imitate Him and acknowledge Him before a watching world. Here in a tract, there in a sermon, again and again in a lesson. Over coffee in the shop, over tea in the parlor, in an email, with a flyer, by a book…you have set others to thinking upon Christ.
Maybe you have met with much success. Praise the Lord! But most likely you have had your share of discouragements and disappointments as well. Here we find the Lord Jesus Christ Himself performing the office of a prophet and proclaiming Himself to men. Let us learn 3 things for our instruction and encouragement:
I. Those that publish Christ will not be gladly received by all men. The text says “And the common people heard Him gladly.” The crowd, that is, was pleased to hear Him. But this was said by way of contrast. The great throng was glad to hear Him, but the Scribes and Pharisees were not. What you say will not be well received by all men. What you write will sometimes be written against. Some will scoff, others mock, and many simply laugh and leave. Do not be surprised that your sermons are sometimes ignored and that your pleas do not impress. Do not wonder that even from within the circles of the church you will find some who oppose your efforts to proclaim Christ. Remember what our Savior said in Luke 6:26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” The scribes were not glad that Christ spoke. Do you expect it otherwise for yourself? Dear reader, you who seek to publish Christ, but find your efforts often ill received; know that you are in the very company of Christ Himself.
II. Those that publish Christ sometimes will be hated by great men. “And the common people heard Him gladly.” Note: it was the “common” folks the “general crowd” that were pleased by Christ. Those in higher positions, those of greater authority, those of more means and influence all opposed the preaching of Christ. It is an interesting observation that when the nation of Israel was beginning to press into the Promised Land that the Holy Spirit says this of their enemies “all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan…gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.” The kings are singled out, though surely it was the soldiers who fought. But the kings especially hated them. Those with greater authority are often the most aggravated with the advancement of the kingdom of God. So it was with Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar and Herod and Nero and so forth. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed (Psalm 2:2).” So it was with our Lord. “So they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to catch Him (Mark 12:13).”
Paul and Barnabas found this out at Antioch. They preached the Word. They published Christ. But the Jews were “filled with envy (Acts 13:45)” and they “stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecutions against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region (Acts 13:50).” Notice: prominent women and the chief men. Things haven’t changed much in 2000 years.
You, who publish Christ, do not be surprised when great men or women oppose you. Do not be shocked by those who put on religious airs, who quote Scripture, who sit in churches sometimes, who have some measure of influence over the opinions of others when they stand against you to tear you down. Do not be discouraged when politicians and leaders distance themselves from you and your message.
III. But finally, be absolutely persuaded of this: those that publish Christ will be gladly heard by many men. “The common people heard Him gladly.” There was a listening and attentive crowd. Many were moved by His message. A great throng were hungering and thirsting after Him. There may be at any moment unnamed and unnoticed multitudes that have heard of Christ through you and rejoice. Our text simply says “the common people.” They may be the ordinary bunch. We do not know their names. They were not the high and mighty. They were not the people of great influence, great means, or great status. They were the “common people.” This is the way of the Lord. "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).”
Many more than you now know are listening as you publish abroad the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures say “who can number the dust of Jacob?” And who, I say, can number the lives your words, your music, your lessons, your tracts, your sermons, your witness may have touched. Those “common people” may be some students in your school, some co-workers in the shop, an email recipient, a total stranger overhearing your conversation about Christ, an internet surfer thousands of miles away. They heard gladly! Keep up the good Word! “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly (Col. 3:16).” Sow bountifully! Cast the bread of life upon the waters of this world. “Blessed are you who sow beside all waters (Isaiah 32:20).”
Dear reader let this also remind us not to aim too highly with our message. Do you seek the praises of high men, dignitaries, the wealthy, the popular, and the influential? “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not (Jeremiah 45:5).” Christ called you to feed the lambs, not the giraffes. Publish Christ gladly among all classes of men, but especially among the common folks, amongst those who are sometimes otherwise neglected and the children, because “the common people heard Him gladly.”