There is no record that any of the twelve disciples was a public relations man.
Yet Jesus spoke to the various marketplaces of His day. He and His men travelled through the marketplaces meeting people and changing many of their lives forever. Marketplaces were human mixing bowls: merchants and customers, lawyers and clients, beggars and rich men, thieves and their victims, leaders and followers, and of course, children. There were infants strapped to their mother’s strong backs, toddlers holding the hands of older siblings, and teens ever on the lookout for the lovely girl or handsome young man. These children were not there on business like their parents; they were there under compulsion or with their own motives depending on their age. They were in the marketplace to play, not to do business.
Musicians were a magnet to them. They gathered around the tambourine shakers and pipers to listen to the music they made. The musicians hoped that if they pleased the children, keeping them out of trouble, the parents might flip a coin or two into the basket. Making music that pleased the children and , by extension, their parents was the occupation of the musician in the marketplace.
Some of the children, their lower lips protruding in a perpetual pout, would not be pleased. When the musicians played happy songs they refused to dance. When they played funeral songs, perhaps to match the sadness of the childish faces, neither would the children join in. There was no pleasing them. Their complaints to their parents meant no clinking of coins in the baskets.
Jesus compared the fickle generation of adults to children in the marketplaces—they would not be pleased no matter what was said or done. John the Baptizer came with a solemn message of repentance and they scoffed at him, saying he had a demon. Jesus and His Twelve men came into the marketplace joyfully, sharing healing smiles and restorative laughter, a foretaste of the New Wine of the New Covenant. Surely they were pleased with the contrast? No. They didn’t like this approach either. They said Jesus and His men were gluttons and drunks. Like children who did not know why they were unhappy or what they wanted or needed, they could not be pleased.
Jesus knew the source of the disgruntled spirit of the crowd. They were not right with God. Nothing they could purchase or sell in the marketplace would ever make them right with God. Being cut off from God spoiled every other relationship in their lives; there was no joy in marriage or adultery, in status or power, in riches or even good health. Something was always missing. No tune ever played could make them dance and they dare not lower their well-worn masks and mourn in public. The vacant center of each life, the place designed for God’s dwelling place, was a sinkhole drawing the details of their lives ever toward the abyss. Their “wisdom” produced nothing but pain.
Others, there in the marketplaces, heard the words of Jesus. They brought their pain to Him and He relieved it. His words filled the empty places in their hearts, giving them inner strength. Here was a joyful song, not a dirge—a tune to dance to! In the coming days and years, the wisdom of following Jesus would prove its value in the marketplaces of the world.
“But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Lord Jesus, save me from childish ways. I will be careful to fill the empty spaces in my life with You! You are my solid Rock foundation. No storm or winds or waves can move You. I am secure in Your grace. Lord, this marketplace of mine is a place bent on dissatisfaction. Help me live differently from the world. When the music of life is joyful, I will dance for You. When the pipes call me to weep for the plight of others, I will weep with You. Every moment of every day is a moment to be seized. May the sum total of my life be goodness—the justification of a wise life. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
Satisfied in Jesus
Words: Barney E. Warren; Music: Clarence E. Hunter
1. I am satisfied in Jesus, What a sweet soul rest I feel;
When life’s greatest burdens press me, He doth all my sorrows heal.
I am satisfied, I am satisfied;
If by simple faith in Jesus I abide,
Then my soul is fully satisfied.
2. I can sing redemption’s story, Peace within my bosom reigns;
I am satisfied, oh, glory! In my heart, His grace remains.
3. I am satisfied completely, In His love supremely blest;
Since His arms are underneath me, Soul and body are at rest.
4. Satisfied in Jesus’ keeping, He’s my choice forevermore;
Fade, life’s joys, so short and fleeting, Mine are over on that shore.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved