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In this week's lesson, Jesus is going to be challenged to practice what he preaches.
Last week, Jesus had successfully defended his disciples from the criticism by the Judean elite that they were not following "the tradition of the elders" when they ate without washing their hands.
There is nothing that goes into a person from the outside which can make them ritually unclean. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that makes them unclean.
For from the inside, from a person's heart, come all the evil ideas which lead them to do immoral things.
Mark 7:15, 21 (Good News Bible)
radically altered two strict social boundaries.
First, Jesus opened the possibility that not only could one eat with unwashed hands - one could also eat with "unwashed" persons.
Up until this time, "the tradition of the elders" made it impossible for Jews to eat with non-Jews, with Gentiles. However, when this issue did arise later among the early church (see Acts 10), Peter was able to affirm, "I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Whoever worships God and does what is right is acceptable to God, no matter what race they belong to."
Second, Jesus opened the possibility even a Gentile's heart might be acceptable to God.
Almost as if to prove this point, Mark immediately follows Jesus' teachings about what makes a person acceptable with this story of Jesus going into Gentile territory near the city of Tyre.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.