“You fully reject the Teachings of God ...” (Mark 7:9-13)

“You fully reject the Teachings of God in order to keep your own traditions. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses their father or mother – let him die.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, ‘whatever I have that would help you is corban – that is to say, an offering to God – you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or mother – thus making the Teachings of God invalid through your tradition that you have proclaimed – and many similar things you do.” (Mark 7:9-13)

What is Jesus' point?

Jesus is making a point about how the institutional teachers of his time were turning their backs on the true teachings of the Prophets and turning their teachings into empty rituals.

The above translation from the Lost Gospels of Jesus clarifies his statement.

Moses' teaching was not the central teaching or issue Jesus was discussing. This is evidenced by the word γάρ (gar), which is being translated to "For" here. It is a word that is used to affirm the previous statement. It is like saying, "for example" in modern English.

This is also evidenced by Jesus' phrase, "and many similar things you do."

The point is that Jesus is speaking of how the temple institution had created various rituals that departed from the spirit of the instructions given by those representatives of God (Prophets) that came before them.

This problem also exists today among institutions that claim to represent Jesus today: They have created various rituals; yet minimize Jesus' primary teachings, namely, to love and serve the Supreme Being.

What was Moses' instruction about honoring parents?

Jesus uses an example explaining how the temple institution had departed from Moses' teachings.

We find Moses gave this instruction:
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)
"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Deut. 5:16)
Some translations of Jesus' statement imply Moses said people would be put to death if they didn't honor their mother or father. As if people should be stoned to death for disrespecting their parents.

This is an example of a mistranslation of both the New Testament and the Old Testament by fanatical institutionalists. The idea that Moses instructed that people would be executed because they didn't respect their parents is ludicrous. It is fanatical and violent. Quite simply, Moses did not instruct this.

Such an interpretation - along with those saying one who didn't follow other commandments should be executed - were advanced by those who did not follow Moses' primary teachings regarding loving God and having mercy upon others.

In other words, they missed the very substance of Moses' teachings.

Yes, there may be an exception with regard to someone who murders another person. But to execute someone who steals something or lies or worships a false god is simply vicious fanaticism. And Moses did not teach this.

Those who put forth this translation/interpretation also missed the substance of Jesus' teachings here and elsewhere. Jesus did not teach that one should be executed for not honoring their mother or father.

Is this a mistranslation regarding honoring parents?

In Jesus' statement, the Greek phrase often translated to "to be put to death" is θανάτῳ τελευτάτω. The word τελευτάω (teleutaō) means "to finish, bring to an end" and "come to an end" according to the lexicon.

And the Greek word θάνατος (thanatos) - translated to "death" here - can mean "death of the body" in some contexts. But when used in the context that Jesus was using it (metaphorically), it means, according to the lexicon, "the misery of the soul arising from sin, which begins on earth..."

In other words, they were thinking that Jesus was speaking about the physical body when Jesus was speaking about the situation of the soul: The person within - the spirit-person. Not following God's instructions equates to misery for the soul. Such activities are devoid of life because they are not pleasing to God.

You see, Jesus and the Prophets before him all taught that we are not these physical bodies. They taught that we are the spirit-person within these temporary bodies. This is why Jesus stated clearly:
"And don’t fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)
Jesus is specifically telling his students that they are not the physical body. Thus they are not to fear someone killing the physical body. In the same way, Jesus is referring to the state of the soul - the spirit-person within the physical body - that would be affected by not following Moses' teachings. Jesus is speaking of spiritual death.

This meaning has the same context as another statement Jesus made - to a student who wanted to attend his father's funeral:
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22)

So what about Moses' teaching? Was Moses threatening his followers with being put to death by not following this instruction?

We can turn to Exodus, where the translation states that Moses said:
"Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death." (Exodus 21:17)
Here the phrase "is to be put to death" is being translated from the Hebrew word מוּת (muwth). But actually, the word can means, "to die prematurely by neglect of wise moral conduct."

So how can this be interpreted as putting someone to death? Certainly, this abandons Moses' and Jesus' instructions to love others and have mercy on others. Certainly dishonoring one's mother and father is not the same as killing someone - which would necessitate action that would protect others.

Rather, by the use of מוּת (muwth), Moses is referring to the destruction of a person's spiritual self. The abandonment of God's instructions brings one to lose sight of their relationship with the Supreme Being.

Therefore, the more appropriate translation of Moses' instruction as well as Jesus' reflection of Moses' instruction is:
"‘Whoever curses their father or mother will die prematurely.’"
The point is that Moses wasn't teaching this idea of us taking it upon ourselves to enforce spiritual laws by harming others. As if humans were supposed to enforce the "eye for an eye" policy. Moses' - and Jesus' - teachings related to the fact that material nature automatically serves upon us the consequences of our actions. It is the nature of the physical world to serve up the consequences - which effectively produces the "eye for an eye" situation automatically, in this life or the next.

As such, it is clear from the aspect of Jesus' statement in Greek as well as Moses' statement from the Hebrew - that Moses and Jesus were discussing one's spiritual welfare - being spiritually dead. They were discussing the consequences of those actions. They weren't threatening people with the death of their body as has been interpreted by fanatical institutions and merciless leaders.

The nature of our relationship with God

Each of us is subordinate to the Supreme Being. Yes, we are each spiritual in our makeup, just as He is. He is the Controller of all, while we are His subordinates. And our purified identity is such that we are His servants.

Should we abandon His instructions - given directly by Him or through His representative - then we lose our ability to sustain that position of being His servant. This means we effectively lose our life - with the word "life" relating directly to sustaining our identity as His servant - which brings happiness and fulfillment because this is our nature.

This is why it has been said it is better to give than to receive, because giving brings us happiness - because by nature we are each caregivers - servants.

Yes, each of us has the choice of whether we want to love and serve the Supreme Being. This is our freedom - because love requires freedom.

But when we choose not to love and serve God - we effectively lose our true identity. We become covered up by our false identification with this temporary physical body. This in effect, is hell. It is the loss of our spiritual lives.

What about the tradition of honoring parents?

Moses' and Jesus' instruction was founded upon a tradition of ancient times that is not so prevalent today. That is, one's parents were typically responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the child. They would teach the child those things that their parents taught them - issues relating to spiritual life.

As such, a child was to respect one's parents as they provided spiritual upbringing. And to not respect one's parents was to make a mistake that would impact their spiritual life.

Today, parents often don't take on such a responsibility, because the previous generations haven't been given devotional training by the preceding generation of parents. As such, the system that was ongoing in ancient times has pretty much broken down.

In today's secular societies, parents raise their children without strong spiritual guidance. This is because they also had a lack of spiritual guidance. This does not invalidate the need for us to respect our parents. But doing so would not necessarily have the same effect upon our spiritual lives since our parents haven't taken on that responsibility of spiritual training.

Furthermore, in some cases, parents today may damage their children with neglect or abuse. Such activities should not earn respect for the parents. In these cases, it is best for the child to be taken from the parents. Certainly, there should be no blame if the children don't have much respect for such parents.

Are there practical benefits for honoring parents?

Otherwise, should one follow this instruction and honor one's parents - even if the parents did not have a profound spiritual influence? There is still a very practical benefit. As the parents become more elderly they can pass on lessons about life they may have learned during their lifetimes. By honoring them, the children benefit by hearing some of the lessons learned by the previous generation.

This is especially beneficial as this relates to spiritual knowledge. An elderly person who has spent at least some of their life in search of truth may be able to share some wisdom.

Also consider the practical side. What if the children did not honor their mother and father? What would happen to the elderly once they got older? Who would take care of them? Certainly, if the children honored their mother and father, they would also take care of them as they got older.

Thus we find practical reasons for honoring one's parents, pointing to the wisdom of the Supreme Being's instructions. They are not just empty laws or rituals.

What about empty rituals?

This is what Jesus was discussing. Remember Jesus' statement follows the temple teachers criticizing Jesus and his followers for not following the ritual of washing their hands.

Instead of honoring the intention and purpose behind this instruction by Moses, the temple institution created a ritual washing ceremony that missed the purpose. The original instruction was related to making offerings - to wash before making an offering.

But the temple institution had turned this practical instruction into an empty ritual, leaving behind its devotional purpose.

Ironically, today we find empty rituals embraced by institutions claiming to follow Jesus. They are ignoring his primary teachings while emphasizing rituals they have made up. And they claim that these empty rituals will save them.

One such ritual relates to eating a wafer and some grape juice or wine and thinking that doing this ritual will save them because Jesus supposedly died for their sins.

This is a misinterpretation of Jesus' life and mission. Jesus taught his followers to love the Supreme Being and do God's will. That is what will save us. Why would Jesus bother teaching these things if we could just do a ritual and accept that he died for our sins and be saved?

Not only did Jesus never teach this: This notion contradicts Jesus' teachings.

With regard to the forgiveness of sins, Jesus instructed his followers to pray to God directly to forgive one's offenses:
"Please forgive our offenses, for we also forgive everyone who has offended us." (Luke 11:4)
This teaching of Jesus indicates that the Supreme Being does not need to have His beloved loving servant ("son") die for our sins in order for us to be forgiven of sins - as some preach.

The Supreme Being can forgive our sins simply by willing it. He does not have to comply with some sort of sacrificial ritual in order to release people from their past sins. God never has to comply with any rule or ritual of sacrifice. This is inherent in the very definition of God.

Furthermore, Jesus did not direct his students to be focused on being saved. The focus of Jesus' teachings - and the focus of Moses' teachings - was upon us coming to know, love and serve the Supreme Being with all our hearts:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)