What’s a Corner?

I remember hearing a story of a father whose little daughter wanted to play while he worked in the driveway.  “Dad,” she asked, “can I run up and down the sidewalk?”

“OK, Honey,” Dad replied.  “Just stay on our street and don’t go past the corner.”

Sure enough, the little girl ran straight down the sidewalk and around the corner. The father ran after her, grabbed her, and on the way back lectured her about obedience and safety, using all the tools of guilt and fear we human fathers often use in such situations.

By the time they got back to the driveway, the little girl was downcast and on the verge of tears.  “Dad,” she asked.  “Can I ask a question?”

“Yes,” the father replied sternly.  “What is it?”

“What’s a corner?”


Often times, we suppose a lot when we communicate, and those suppositions tend to end up working against that communication, causing a lot of misunderstanding.  This is more common when we’re talking to someone from a different culture or generation.

And so, we can expect that it’s very likely to happen when we are discussing the Bible, which was written to a culture very different than ours and many generations ago.

As we continue our series, “(Re)Discovering Jesus,” a journey through the Gospel of Mark, we need to realize that there are some terms in that Gospel that didn’t need explanation to the original Middle-Eastern audience of almost 2,000 years ago, but which aren’t all that clear to us today here in the United States.

To help bridge that gap of time and culture, here are some of the terms you may hear in this week’s sermon on Mark 2:18-3:6.  We hope these help, and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

  • Pharisees – literally means separatists.  In the time of Jesus, there were the popular religious party (John 7:48).  They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters pertaining to the law of Moses (Matt. 9.14; 23:15; Luke 11:3918:12).
  • Fasting  The discipline of abstaining for a time from all or certain foods. In the Bible, fasting often accompanies prayer for the purpose of intensive intercession, repentance, worship, or the seeking of guidance. To understand the controversy over fasting, one needs to appreciate the significance of fasting in first-century Judaism. Fasting had a rich heritage in Judaism and was a highly regarded act of worship. Fasts were tied to the Day of Atonement in the OT (Lev. 16:29). In addition, four daylong fasts were held to recall the destruction of Jerusalem (Zech. 7:3, 5; 8:19). Fasts were also used for penitence (1 Kings 21:27; Joel 1:142:15–27; Isa. 58:1–9) and mourning (Esth. 4:3). The Pharisees had developed fasting into a regular practice. Twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, they would fast and intercede for the nation (Luke 18:12Didache8.1; SB 4:77–114; Behm, TDNT 4:924–35).
  • Sabbath – (Heb. verb shabbath, meaning “to rest from labour”), the day of rest. It is first mentioned as having been instituted in Paradise, when man was in innocence (Gen. 2:2). “The sabbath was made for man,” as a day of rest and refreshment for the body and of blessing to the soul.  It is next referred to in connection with the gift of manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 16:23); and afterwards, when the law was given from Sinai (20:11), the people were solemnly charged to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Thus it is spoken of as an institution already existing.  In the Mosaic law strict regulations were laid down regarding its observance (Ex. 35:2, 3; Lev. 23:3; 26:34).  The Sabbath went from sundown Fridaynight to sundown Saturday night.
  • David – David is the anointed King.  However, Saul is still chasing David trying to kill him.  In 1 Sam. 21:3-6, David and his men go into the house of God and eat the bread of the presence, which was technically illegal (Ex. 29:32-33; Lev. 24:5-9).
  • Abiathar, the high priest – A person appointed by God in the Old Testament to offer sacrifices, prayers, and praises to God on behalf of the people.
  • Son of Man – The term by which Jesus referred to himself most often, which had an Old Testament background, especially in the heavenly figure who was given eternal rule over the world in the vision in Daniel 7:13.
  • Synagogue – Worshiping in a synagogue happens after the Jews have been exiled and the temple is destroyed.  So the synagogue replaced the temple.  There were no sacrifices offered in synagogue worship.  The services of the synagogue consisted (1) of prayer, which formed a kind of liturgy, there were in all eighteen prayers; (2) the reading of the Scriptures in certain definite portions; and (3) the exposition of the portions read.
  • Herodians  – a Jewish political party who sympathized with (Mark 3:6; 12:13; Matt. 22:16; Luke 20:20) the Herodian rulers in their general policy of government, and in the social customs which they introduced from Rome
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