This long section dealing with defilement begins with a question from the Pharisees about eating with unwashed hands (verse 7). Christ's answer never strays from this point; He is addressing ritual washings that the Jews added (verses 7-9), not unclean meats. Verse 19, however, is often cited as proof that Jesus declared all foods clean. Yet He is speaking about the human digestive system! He says that whether one washes his hands or not, the digestive tract handles, or "purifies," all food the same way. He then moves to the more serious issue of a man's conduct, which is what truly defiles him.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Clean and Unclean Meats
In the religious Jews of His time, Jesus faced man's proclivity to add to and take from God's Word. The Jews added thousands of regulations in a sincere effort to make their obedience to God as complete as they possibly could. Their traditions were different from ours, but the principle is the same. Their religious life did not depend on listening to God but upon clever arguments and interpretations of the experts, the rabbis. They substituted human ingenuity for God's law. Jesus called their ingenuity vain and hypocritical, and their additions resulted in nothing good in terms of the Kingdom of God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption
Most of this world's holidays are based on fables, myths, and lies, while the Christian is commanded to worship God "in spirit and in truth." A true Christian does not lie and does not associate with lies, but seeks after truth in all aspects of life. If we live with a little lie now, then it is much easier to live with a worse lie later. God is emphatic on this point: A liar will not enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:7-8).
Martin G. Collins
The Pharisees expended a great deal of effort in their religious endeavor to be considered pure by God. Jesus, however, castigates them because all their work and energy were being expended on useless things, things that did nothing to make them more spiritual or permit them to witness for God in the right way. Instead, they were religiously expending their energy doing nothing more than the traditions of men and were not the kind of works that God was looking for.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Works
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Mark 7:6: