“For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:19)
When I was a kid, I was a picky eater. If it wasn’t chicken or boloney, the food was not crossing my lips! One day I was visiting my grandma, and I noticed she was eating something that looked a little peculiar. I had to know, so I asked her what it was. What she said made me a little sick: “Pickled pigs’ feet.” Gross! I recoiled and wondered, “Who in the world eats pigs’ feet, pickled or not?” And no, I did not want a bite.
Mark records a scene that had to be just as incredulous. Standing before the people was the fulfillment of every tradition and every religious ceremony, and he was about to rock their world. You can almost hear the Pharisees grumbling, “What did he just say?” But Jesus made it perfectly clear: Food, whether eaten with ceremonially washed hands or not, does not defile the heart. Likewise, eating the right foods cannot cleanse the heart. Only a relationship with Jesus can do that.
Paul once wrote to Titus, “He [Jesus] saved us through the washing of rebirth” (Titus 3:5). Tradition and ceremony merely point us to Jesus Christ so that we can experience forgiveness of sin and the cleansing of our hearts through faith in Jesus. It’s a continual promise of God, that when we turn to Jesus and confess our sins, he cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
Maintain true heart health by feeding on the Word of God.
Cheryl McHenry has been a Wesleyan minister’s wife for over twenty years in South Dakota and Wyoming. She currently resides in Indiana and enjoys walking with her husband.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.