With the advent of technology, it seems that our society is becoming more and more “disconnected.” Trying to maintain a relationship involving any level of intimacy via email, text messages, or any of the other social networking tools can be quite challenging. I think one reason for the difficulty is that the written word does not communicate the body language, vocal intonations, or other subtle nuances that can be used to infer intent. As a result, the reader can sometimes interpret written forms of communication in ways that the author never intended. Since the Bible is God’s written Word to us, I wonder if we sometimes interpret an intent or tone of voice behind His Word, that God never intended.

Let’s look at a conversation that is recorded in both Mark and Matthew. Before reading the passage, I think a bit of background might help explain some things first. In The Chronological Life of Christ (pg. 285) Moore describes the idea of Corban. There was a Jewish tradition in which a person could label any of their possessions (i.e. a cart, a house, savings, property, etc.) as Corban. In doing that, the person was saying, “I promise to give this possession to God, if not sooner, then upon my death.” In the meantime (between the promise to give the possession and the actual giving) the person who made the promise was free to use the possession themselves, but could not ever sell it or give it to anyone (including their parents). After the person died, then the possession that was labeled Corban was sold and the proceeds donated to God.

There is great potential for abuse here. If I have something that you want or need, all I have to do is label it as Corban, and then it is off limits to you, but still free for me to use. In Jesus’ day, this tradition was being used by some people to keep from having to care for their elderly parents, thereby not honoring them as God commanded. This tradition (or interpretation of the law) seemed to circumvent God’s original intent behind other commands in the law.

With that in mind, consider the following interaction that Jesus had with the Pharisees (from Mark and Matthew).

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