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Tone

John 2:3-4 KJV "And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. [4] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come."

Do you think Jesus' words are an appropriate way for a 30-year-old son to speak to His mother? I used to take offense that Jesus referred to His mother as "woman," until I learned that the word was actually a term of endearment in Jesus' day. According to William Barclay, Homer used the term to demonstrate the affection between Odysseus and his wife Penelope and it was Augustus' favorite way to address Cleopatra. It was a title of respect.

But even after clearing that up, I'm left scratching my head at the next phrase Jesus used, "what have I to do with thee?" The New Living Translation softens His words a little bit by translating the Greek phrase as "How does that concern you and me?" 

The translations don't provide us with Jesus' tone of voice. If it was a harsh tone of voice or a sarcastic one, the same words would have opposite meaning than if He used a compassionate tone. 

Tone, pause and punctuation add meaning to our words. For instance, How would you punctuate this sentence? A woman without her man is worthless. A man might punctuate it, "A woman, without her man is worthless." A woman would probably punctuate it like this, "A woman: without her, man is worthless. The same words have opposite meanings depending on the punctuation.

A little thing like a comma or a colon can completely change the meaning of a written sentence. And do you agree that the tone of voice used in saying something can completely change the meaning of a spoken sentence?

Mary's reaction leads us to believe Jesus' words didn't offend her, so I don't guess they should offend us either. But it does serve as a great reminder that we should guard our tone, lest someone misread our heart.
 

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