“After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him “unclean”? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods ‘clean.’)” (Mark 7:17-19)
Ouch! I’ve had moments in my life where I might have imagined that Jesus thought I was pretty thick-headed, but it must have stung a little to hear him actually say out loud, “Are you so dull?”
Part of the problem was that Jesus’ teaching about food not being able to make you unclean was radically different from what the disciples had grown up believing. It was built into their worldview about both God and food. Jesus’ declaration that all foods were now clean was so startling they had to ask what, exactly, he meant.
Does Jesus sound too harsh to you, given what seems to us like the disciples’ understandable confusion? It might feel that way through the ears of our culture, but Jesus was a teacher, a rabbi, and challenging students with stern questions is often an effective teaching method. It wakes us up, tells us “this is serious,” and helps us to realize that we are NOT too dull. We can get this.
Jesus was never NOT loving or patient or kind. Even his harsh-sounding questions were intended for the disciples’ good.
Think: Do you ever feel a little dull when it comes to understanding some of the hard-to-get words of Jesus? Does that motivate you to work a little harder to figure them out through prayer, research, or asking someone you trust?
Pray: Ask God to help you to keep growing in your understanding of Jesus’ words in the Bible.
Do: Think about Jesus and his disciples next time one of your teachers or coaches asks you a stern or abrupt question.
“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him “unclean” by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him “unclean.” ‘ ” (Mark 7:14-15)
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“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were ‘unclean,’ that is, unwashed.” (Mark 7:1-2)
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