“Are you a teacher of Israel. And yet you do not understand these things?”
– John [3:10] (NRSV)
CHRIST IS CHRIST
I had just received my grades from my last semester, and one of the notes from my professor, said, “Good luck with your fledgling ministry.” The professor knew that I was involved in marketplace ministry and he thought this was a revolutionary idea. In relating this to my wife, she quickly picked up on the professor missing the point. She stated three truths, “People need to pay their bills. They need to work to pay their bills. People want a faith life.” There it was in three simple sentences. Almost everyone has to work at some time in the marketplace. In fact, at any one point in time over half of our population is in the workforce to pay their bills. This is where people are for a good deal of their lives.
Jesus went where the people worked and it was not a “fledgling ministry.”
Jesus was a marketplace worker and minister, prior to his three-year ministry. He was a carpenter. In the early Judean marketplace, they were considered artisans’. Of the forty-nine parables, more than forty relate to the marketplace. Of his one hundred and thirty-two public appearances, well over one hundred were associated with the marketplace. His ministry was where the people worked. He dined with tax collectors, helped farmers, instructed day workers and had fisherman as his Apostles. Jesus went where the people worked and it was not a “fledgling ministry.”
Jesus came to change the way the world thought about God.
In Today’s verse, Jesus is continuing his discussion with Nicodemus, who is still struggling with the concepts Jesus was explaining. Jesus challenged this great religious leader, by asking him how he couldn’t understand. But Nicodemus was surrounded by religious and academic leaders daily. They concocted ways of thinking about God that supported their relevance. Under this onslaught of theories and doctrine, that were designed to support the self-interest of the religious elite, Nicodemus was weakened. To maintain his position, he had to somewhat agree with the religious elite of the first century. He had arrived to talk with Jesus late that night, under the burden of theories designed to support the existing power structure. Jesus knew Nicodemus wanted the real truth and began to instruct him on the real ways of God. This was Jesus’s purpose, not just with Nicodemus, but for all humankind. Jesus came to change the way the world thought about God.
But the most obvious truth remains, Christ is Christ, not a theory.
The simple truth is people work to live. Jesus knew this and that is where he ministered. None of his twelve Apostles were from the religious elite. Jesus knew where the action was and where to be. Jesus didn’t use fancy doctrine or overly complex theories. He used simple words and stories. His ministry was where God’s people worked. Jesus’s ministry wasn’t a “Fledgling Ministry.” Over the last two thousand years theologians have discussed and analyzed every facet of his existence. Many difficult to read books have been published and careers enhanced by being able to speak eloquently about Jesus. But the most obvious truth remains, Christ is Christ, not a theory.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Can we see Jesus in the marketplace?
What does the Bible tell us about who he met with?
Why did Jesus pick twelve everyday people to be His Apostles?