Bringing the Text to Life

Burdened Vessels Matthew 23:1-12

Burdened Vessels

In nautical lingo, a vessel that is "privileged" always has the right of way when encountering a boat that is "burdened." But in Jesus' view of divine justice, privileged people must yield to burdened people, and not do anything to increase their burdens.

Last summer, on a clear Sunday afternoon in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, a 25,000-pound powerboat ran into - and over - a sloop under sail.

The powerboat was a Tiara 4000 Express with a top speed of 33 miles per hour. The sailboat was an ultralight Colgate sloop, moving at about five miles per hour. It's not hard to imagine who came out on top.

The powerboat hit the sailboat right smack in the middle, demolishing the cabin and partially submerging the sailboat. The crew of two on the sailboat were thrown into the water, and quickly rescued.

The operator of the powerboat said he had not seen the sailboat. How can you not see a sloop with a 35-foot mast and raised sails?

What we have here is a clear case of a burdened vessel beating up on a privileged vessel.

For generations, skippers have used the terms "burdened" and "privileged" to define the status of two vessels encountering each other. The privileged vessel is the one that has the right of way - the right to proceed...

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