To the Jew First and Also the Gentile

On Sunday, March 20, 2011, it was my privilege to preach Mark 7:1–37, “To the Jew First and Also the Gentile,” at Kenwood Baptist Church.

At the exodus from Egypt Moses led Israel through the Red Sea into the wilderness where they immediately needed water and food. The Lord provided bread from heaven and water from the rock. Then they arrived at Sinai, where the Lord gave Israel his word through Moses. Then Moses taught the people how they were to live to preserve cleanliness and walk with the Lord.

In the new exodus Mark is depicting, John the Baptist has prepared the way, Jesus has calmed the sea and walked on it, he has provided bread in the desolate place, healing for the sick, and authoritative teaching. Now in Mark 7 Jesus will issue an authoritative declaration about all foods being clean.

Jesus conforms to his own standards and helps people on his own terms, and his standards and terms are holy, righteous, and good.

The Pharisees miss the point of the Old Testament and nitpick Jesus’ disciples about handwashings, then Jesus declares that it is what comes from the heart that defiles. After the scribes and Pharisees reject Jesus, he goes to Gentile territory, where Mark shows it’s better to be a dog who gets crumbs than a child who refuses to eat, and then a Gentile has his ears opened and his tongue loosed.

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