One of my favorite things to hear following a sermon is, “I believe anyone could understand what you preached today.” I usually respond with, “I’m a simple country preacher. I’m not smart enough to get too deep.”
The goal of every preacher should be this: Impart the word of God so that every honest heart can understand and respond appropriately. This is why I love the statement in Mark 12:37, “And the common people heard Him gladly.”
For years I thought of “the common man” (KJV) as the average, uneducated Jew. Based on the normal (common? 😊) use of the word common. But who were these “common people”? The word does not identify them as being “common” as we might think from other English texts using the word. Certainly not in the sense that we find the word used in Acts 10:9-16 with Peter’s vision of the great sheet filled with every kind of beast, bird and creeping thing (cf Acts 11:8-9). The word translated “common” in Acts 10-11 is not remotely akin to the one in Mark 12.
Had everyone in the audience been upper class and well educated, “common” could have still been used, for the word so translated means “multitude.” Mark is simply saying that the majority of those present received Jesus’ teaching.
So, who comprised this multitude or majority? The average, uneducated Jew. So I got their identity right, but purely by accident. In view of understanding who these folks were, consider this…
Jesus was the smartest man on the planet, with no remotely close second, yet His preaching invited the ear of “the common people.” Most of the Lord’s preaching fell into this category. Of course, there were some obscure or difficult sayings, but the greater part of His teaching was at the level where all could understand it.
While there may be time for deep, difficult preaching, most should not be beyond the grasp of “the common people.” A primary way to accomplish this is to spend much time among the populace. A preacher should not bury himself among the works of the scholars all week so as to be unintelligible on Sunday.
Let’s make sure that our teaching is always “right down there where the calves can get it!”