“Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him.'” (Mark 7:18b-20, ESV)
As we read this passage of Mark, as Jesus addresses the false holiness of the Pharisees, we note that the evangelist tells us that with this teaching Jesus declared all foods clean, that is acceptable and suitable for eating, though sometimes I wonder if He meant liver, squid and eggplant. Basically food is important because it nourishes and satisfies. Eat what you like and feel comfortable eating, but with moderation and balance in all things.
We may notice that what Jesus says is nearly the complete opposite of what is popular and trendy in modern culture. If we are to believe what we hear in the media and what we see on the food networks and numerous postings on social media sites, food and eating are touted to be among the most important things in life. While we all need food, our cultural attitude has made food something which consumes people, rather than the other way around. Food is something to live for, revel in and praise. Food has become an idol with celebrity chefs and diet gurus as the priests. People proclaim the benefits of certain foods depending on their point of view or political philosophy: vegans, vegetarians, paleos, raw foodies, or what have you. Many of these often proselytize proclaiming that their diet is the best not just for them but for everybody. Food, so it seems, is the thing that makes us good or bad.
But Jesus tells us that it it is not what you eat that defiles you, the real you, the inner person. He says that it is what comes out of you that defiles you, works of darkness, sin and evil. They not only defile a person but also reveal the evil that is within. Deeds and words reveal that a person is hopelessly defiled and sinful and in need of a Savior. Jesus, the bread of Life, not physical food, is that Savior.