I have always been intrigued by the background and meanings of words and phrases. I have several books on the subjects such as, "Pig's on Ice", "Heavens to Betsy," and "Horsefeathers" by Charles Earle Funk, as well as more scholarly works such as lexicons and thesaurus. I have Greek study books, Hebrew study books as well as study books on several African languages. Again, I have an interest in words and their usage.
Now, checking into the background of the word "Balderdash," I found the following record from the British writer, Michael Quinion. He writes, "We really don't have a clear idea where it comes from. Some argue its origin lies in the Welsh "baldorddus", "idle noisy talk or chatter" (though that is pronounced very differently), while others point to related words in Dutch, Icelandic and Norwegian, such as the Dutch "balderen", which means "to roar or thunder." It appears around the time of Shakespeare with the meaning of froth or frothy liquid, or a jumbled mixture of liquids, such as milk and beer, or beer and wine. Only in the latter part of the seventeenth century did it move towards its modern meaning, through the idea of "speech or writing that is a senseless jumble, hence nonsense or trash."
Though all of this is interesting, what does it really have to do with anything? In application I was thinking about an incident from the life of Jesus:
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk?' But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the man,
"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" (Mark 2:1-12 TNIV)
Is there a difference is the meaning of words?
In this case, there sure was. The one speaking to them had authority! Jesus even emphasizes this point, himself:
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk?' But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said ... (Mark 2:8-9)
When the Master of the Universe speaks, it changes everything! Our own wants and desires are secondary and come in far behind the words of the Master in importance. So when Jesus' last words are the following, we'd better pay attention:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Some folks want to take umbrage with these words and tend to dismiss parts of what Jesus said here as being nonsense, balderdash or of less importance. Others don't even think someone can speak to them with authority about anything. Jesus, however, spoke these words with intention and claimed authority as he said them so we would live by them. They are anything but "balderdash" for us! They are meant to change lives. They were chosen so that we might know that the Son of Man has authority on earth ... to both forgive sins and also commission us to continue the work of God!
There is no balderdash here!