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
My library contains a book titled The Code of Jewish Law. This six-hundred-page book, printed in fine type, is a compilation of laws that the Jews in the first, second, and third centuries AD—the time of Christ and the next two hundred years—were required to do as a part of Judaism.
They did not perform them because they wanted to make fun of God; they did it in all seriousness. However, their zeal was misguided. Their zeal, Paul says in Romans 10:2, was not according to knowledge. They were expending their efforts sincerely, working hard, but on all the wrong things. The Jews who were faithful to their religion worked extremely hard. They would put us to shame in terms of religious zeal. Yet, being misguided and misdirected, it was all for nothing.
Works are a part of Christianity, but what kind of works does Christ want? Jesus hints that it has something to do with the commandments or word of God in contradistinction to the traditions of men.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Works
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
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Mark 7:13: