He declares all foods clean. The world they lived in at that times was very ritualistic in nature. This story is placed where it is for a particular reason, to give the overall message Mark wants to give in his account. He is looking at the question what is clean, what is defiled. Narrative structure of Mark 6-8: A - feeds 5000 Jews (walks on water) Mark 6 B - heals those who come to him C - eating food with defiled hands (Mark 7) D - declares all foods clean C - heals the daughter of a Greek woman from an unclean spirit B - heals a man in Decaoplis A- feeds 4000 Gentiles in a desert (Mark 8)
The Greek woman is the center point of Jesus mission to include the Gentiles. All are clean. Everyone is welcome. It is not what is on the outside that matters, it is what is on the inside. He is breaking down social barriers. Peter says the same in Acts 10:28. No one is common, no one is unclean. This woman is not an oppressed woman seeking to claim her place in the world as many today proclaim. She is a woman of privilege. She is not demanding things of Jesus, she is begging for help. She gets it while the disciples still do not. She knows Jesus has the answers.
Lessons from chapter 7:
Beware of vain worship. We may be more aware of this now due to what has been taken away from us in worship. We appreciate more what worship does for us now, we are less likely to be going through the motions. It is not the external things, it is about our heart. Jesus is saying don’t make a show of your religion. That is vain worship.
Do not mistake tradition with commandment. The Pharisees were so caught up in keeping the commandments of God they neglected their fellow man. Tradition isn’t always bad. It means to hand things across, to hand things down. They’re not bad in and of themselves, it’s how we use them. We’ve now put the collection plates at the back, for example. Some people may have an issue with that - that’s not how we do it, they would say. That’s holding to tradition beyond commandment. Midweek service is something we’ve come up with, it’s not a commandment. But we do it for a reason, to help us to encourage one another daily. Everyone should want to be here for whenever we decide to meet. We need that association.
Holiness and defilement both come from within. It’s not about where you grew up. God cares about what’s in your heart. This is the central point of this story. Think of David. Samuel didn’t think he was the answer but God knew he was, God knew his heart.
So let’s ask ourselves this question: How far will I go to receive Jesus saving power? This woman would’ve gone to the end of the world to save her daughter. Will we?