What the Bible Says About Food – Mark 7:19 – “He Declared All Foods Clean”

What does the Bible say about food

Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here, or the second lesson (“Do Not Labor for Food that Perishes”) click here.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? 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.) Mark 7:18-19 ESV

In context: The Pharisees taught that what a person does or eats or allows to enter his body (in this passage through not washing hands before eating) affects a person’s spiritual state, making him unclean. Jesus countered and said that nothing outside a person going into him defiles him. Only what is in the heart defiles a person.

My Thoughts: I don’t think this passage gives permission to eat anything indiscriminately. The point is that what I eat will not affect whether I am right with God spiritually.

I’ve seen too many “real food” blogs in the name of Jesus imply that our eating organic, whole foods is a sign of some sort of righteousness. They don’t say that, of course, but the undertones are definitely there. And I don’t think it’s purposeful. Attempts to please God through what we do is not new. The Pharisees did it and took it to a self-righteous extreme. But even those with the purest of hearts in the New Testament asked Jesus “What must we do?” (Luke 3:10, John 6:28)

It’s much easier to check “take care of my body” off my righteous checkbox than to live resting knowing Jesus IS our righteousness and he is enough.

We know God created these bodies and called them good. We know God created whole foods and called them good. We know God knows what makes our bodies work most efficiently.

I have a desire to take care of my body so I can be healthy into my sunset years simply to be able to serve God all the more. There is nothing wrong with that.

But we can very easily slip into this prideful existence where we are “above” those who choose to eat Cheetos and Coke for lunch.  We can begin to look down on those with medical conditions typically caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. All of this pride slips slowly and undetectably because it starts with good intentions.

Isn’t that how the crafty serpent has always worked?

There’s this unfortunate chasm that is separating the “haves” and the “have-nots” once again. The “haves” can afford to eat healthy, and the “have-nots” are thankful when there’s food on the table. With which would Jesus be most pleased? A plate full of roasted organic veggies on the table of a person prideful in her ability to grow or buy it, or a bowl of Ramen Noodles on the table of the person who was thankful to God for the quarter He provided to buy that meal?

I think his reaction would be the same as it was to the Pharisees in Mark 7.

Chime in: How can we balance trying to make healthy choices while not looking down on those who do not? Do you struggle with not being able to afford to eat as healthy as you’d like? How does this verse give us the freedom to know that we aren’t less right with God based on what we eat?

Reflect: What is your first thought when you’re in line to check groceries out and next to you is a person with a basket full of cheap, unhealthy food? Is it judgment? Or is it compassion?


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What the Bible Says About Food – John 6:27- “Do Not Labor for Food That Perishes”

What does the Bible say about food

Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, or the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

“Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” John 6:27 HCSB

In context: Jesus had just fed the 5,000 and the people were seeking him to get more food. He spent a great amount of time telling them that he is the bread of life and their true needs would be met by trusting in him. Verses 49 and 58 reiterate that their ancestors ate manna in the desert provided by God and still died. Jesus, in this passage, continually squelched their concern for tangible food and pointed them to their true need of him.

Apply: This passage teaches that we are not to spend the focus of our energy laboring for physical food in comparison to seeking Jesus and laboring for Kingdom purposes. Jesus didn’t even acknowledge their physical need in this particular passage.

Question:

  1. Does this mean I am not to “labor” for organic food?
  2. If I had extra money in my budget, does this tell me I should put it toward something of spiritual value and not spend extra on organic?

My Thoughts: Last week I canned quarts of spaghetti sauce using tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano from my garden. With the exception of a few ingredients, you might consider it “organic.”

But technically, growing my own food is labor, as is working at any job that provides money to purchase food. We all need food.  So what should we make of this passage?

The key to understanding this passage is realizing that Jesus is making a comparison. Labor in itself isn’t considered something to be avoided. In several parables, Jesus implies that work is good (Matt. 21:28, Matt. 25:16), Paul himself worked in order to spare others from having to provide for him (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor. 4:12, 2 Thess. 3:8), and believers are commanded to work to provide for their own needs and the needs of others (Eph. 4:28, 2 Thess. 3:10).

As you can see, other Scripture shows us that laboring for food isn’t to be avoided, which underscores that the intent of the current passage is to draw a comparison.

The question Christians must ask ourselves is this: Am I more concerned with the quality of my food or of advancing the kingdom of God? It is so easy to let fear drive our choices. It’s easy to make our quest for healthy eating (in the name of “temple maintenance” – a verse we’ll study later that I believe has been taken out of context in many of the real food discussions) yet not quest to be spiritually cleansed by the washing of the Spirit in our lives.

It’s easy to concern ourselves so much with healthy eating yet not seek to be spiritually cleansed by the washing of the Spirit in our lives.

Here’s a quick “heart-check” that might help us bring this passage to light in our lives:

  • Do we make time to cook from scratch but don’t make time for Bible reading and prayer each day?
  • Do we stretch our grocery budget to accommodate more expensive organic food but don’t give the first portion of our income to our local church or stretch our pocketbook to give to the needy?
  • Do we spend more energy worrying about what food goes into your body than we do what media influences we consume that taint our minds?
  • Does our fear over what we eat outweigh our trust in God’s sovereignty over our lives?

And for those who have not surrendered their lives to Jesus, the point of this passage is even more clear. Food, like our bodies, will perish. But Jesus is the spiritual food that when we “feast” on Him (accept his sacrifice for our sins that lead to spiritual death), we will have life that never ends.

Chime in: So, regarding the questions I posed above, should I pay a premium price at the grocery store for an organic apple? Or should I choose to buy grass-fed beef compared to the cheaper beef that was not raised the way God intended (see Food, Inc. for more details on this)? What do you think? Do you think this verse applies to the food we put in our grocery cart?

Reflect: Am I “laboring” more for food that perishes or for the kingdom of God?


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