9 Then he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.” 11But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban” (that is, an offering to God*)— 12then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.’
This passage continues the conflict begun in yesterday’s passage. Jesus has said that the Pharisees are more interested in their own rules, or traditions, than they are in God’s will, or even God’s law – more interested in the appearance of piety than of actually loving God. He quotes the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and your mother.” (Exodus 20:10 & Deuteronomy 5:16) And quotes Leviticus (Leviticus 20:9 "’Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.) Speaking to the “experts in the law” Jesus quotes 3 passages of law in one sentence; and then he goes on to show how they break that very law, by finding a loop-hole. They take their possessions and say, “This is dedicated to God,” (the meaning of “corban”) and they cannot help their parents. In other words, they pretend devotion, making outward displays of generosity, while allowing their own parents to suffer in need.
Looking for loop-holes is never a way to serve God. And don’t we all sometimes do that? We ask, “Does a tithe really have to be 10%?” (no, a tithe should be at least 10%, but it can be whatever you choose to commit to give on a regular basis; it could even be 90%). “Do I have to come to church every Sunday?” (no, we come to church to worship God and to be a part of the Body of Christ, the community of the church. You don’t have to come, but if you don’t, you lose contact with the Body and drift away from God.) If we seek to be legalists, to look at the Bible as a rule book to follow by the letter, instead of a guide from which to learn and grow, we may follow rules precisely, finding loop-holes when the rules don’t suit us, and still never grow in nearness to God.