And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
On Sunday, Connie and I go to a very small Methodist church. It is part of our Sunday ritual. There are bigger churches in the area, certainly with more than twenty or thirty attendees at our church. These larger churches have lavish interiors, powerful music, and far more resources. But this is our church, and we both feel the presence of God when we enter on Sunday.
The pastor of our church is a very compassionate and unassuming woman. When she delivers her sermon, she is always very crisp, and her research is thorough. I know this type of pastor. When she was at seminary, I am sure she got all A’s. She probably was the one who greeted everyone with a smile and dutifully did her homework. Likely, she was never the leader, just a competent student who took her studies very seriously.
Her goals in life are being a good pastor for her flock and raising a healthy family. Likely she will stay a pastor for these smaller churches. She doesn’t have the outward desire to be powerful; instead, she desires to do her best every Sunday for her flock.
But each week, she brings forth something that changes or helps me think through my ministry to the business world differently. Many times making we wonder ‘why hadn’t I thought or found her insight before.’
This past Sunday, her verse (Mark [6:56]) mentions that Jesus healed the sickly in the marketplace. As soon as I heard this, I knew this was one of the missing links in helping people see Jesus was a marketplace minister.
Previously to support my theory, I had scoured scholarly writings throughout the world. Discovering writings to support my hypothesis in interesting places, like Bible commentaries from centuries ago. I even found scholarly essays in Australia to support my viewpoint. I have studied ancient Hebrew and Greek to dissect words. And certainly used Matthew Henry’s commentaries from the 17th century to find answers.
But here is this one simple verse, which was always there for me to see; I discovered the connection of non-circumstantial evidence; Jesus did some of his best work in the marketplace. It was as if my pastor was talking directly to me and telling me this is the important clue you have been seeking.
The verse, Mark [6:56], explains that people brought the sickly from the local villages and towns to their marketplace to be healed by Jesus. To make sure I wasn’t delusional, I went to my library of commentaries once again to see if I could confirm I was right. In doing this research, I discovered John Albert Bengel (1687-1752), the father of modern Biblical scholarship, who explained why. He explained if you wanted to meet someone very important in the first century, you went to the marketplace. It was the center of not only commerce but where people congregated. Certainly, Jesus as well would be where most of the people gathered.
For us in the twentieth century, it would be hard to think Jesus would be on Wall Street, at a shopping mall, or any of our other commercial gathering spots. But in the 1st century, places of commerce were gathering spots.
If you wanted to trade or sell products you had or made. The marketplace was where you went—a kind of clearinghouse or place for the everyday citizen. The reality was, giant corporations didn’t exist. Instead, commerce was done at the local and individual levels in a central place in every town.
If you wanted to buy bread, candy, jewelry, or household products, you went to the town’s marketplace. It is likely that most days of the week, you physically had to go. There were no Amazon Prime delivery trucks, just good old fashion commerce by walking around.
Naturally, as a former carpenter, Jesus had been there many times. And certainly, Jesus would know to go there to carry out his earthly ministerial mission for God. While some of Jesus’ ministry was completed in the local temples, it was often in the streets surrounding the central marketplace. Jesus was the original Street Minster. And not only that, he did his best work in the marketplace.
Jesus went where the people were, as he does today. On any Sunday, statistically, half the people in any church have to be at work by [8:15] the following day. This is a missing piece of understanding by the church today. So maybe we should take Jesus’ lead and meet people where they are. Jesus is already there In the marketplace and waiting to help all who work. Jesus is even on Zoom!