‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:18-19 NIV)
At the turn of the century, Blockbuster reigned supreme in the video rental industry in North America. If a family planned a movie night, someone likely had to drive to one of Blockbuster’s 9,000 stores, stroll through rows of shelves of video cassettes and DVDs, and hand a membership card to a blue-clad employee. In 2000, Netflix who was struggling with their mail video delivery system approached Blockbuster to propose a partnership. Netflix was rejected and laughed at.
Despite changing consumer preferences, Blockbuster doubled down on its store-first model by offering popcorn, books, and toys, while Netflix experimented with a subscription model and no late fees. Only 10 years later, Netflix became the largest source of streaming Internet traffic in North America during peak hours, with over 20 million subscribers. Blockbuster declared bankruptcy.
Therefore, when Jesus corrects the religious leadership from Jerusalem, for being so focussed on the food ceremonial laws, they laugh at him. Jesus says that by focussing on these laws, they are focussed on the externals and not on the internals i.e. not on the heart which is more important to God. Jesus tells them it is not what they eat or how they wash their hands that is important to God. God is concerned with what comes out of them, what comes out of their hearts. It is their hearts that cause them to sin. It is their hearts that brings them to sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (Mark 7:21-22).
Mark 7:19 gives us the result of Jesus’ words to these religious leaders. He declares all foods clean. Jesus comes to supersede the Old Testament food laws. He is the Son of God. About 15 years later, Peter will be given a vision of a sheet full of 4 legged animals considered unclean in the Old Testament. This sheet full of unclean animals comes down from heaven. God tells Peter to eat these animals (Acts 10:11-13). This is before Peter is called to share his faith with Cornelius, the Roman centurion. He and his family are the first non-Jewish converts in Acts. God honours the heart of Cornelius who seeks God despite his Gentile upbringing (Acts 10:2)
The religious leaders who laugh at Jesus do not see this coming. Within a short span of 15 years, when Peter visits Cornelius, God extends his kingdom to people who do not grow up observing strict Jewish food laws. When Mark 7:19 states that Jesus declares all foods clean, he is forecasting a day in which God will extend his kingdom who eat all kinds of food in Acts 10, about 15 years later.