Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “Don’t you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated (thus he declared all foods clean). Mark 7:18-19 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Jesus did away with the Old Testament dietary restrictions.”
Yesterday some friends of mine came home from two months of serving in northern Italy with Samaritan’s Purse medical disaster relief team. They were there as part of the effort to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The Italians were so grateful for the team’s service that they put them up in a nice hotel and hired a professional chef to prepare the team’s meals. So although my friends worked long hard hours seven days a week in a dangerous environment, they had comfortable accommodations and they were very well-fed.
When they arrived home, they had to go into fourteen days of self-quarantine in their house. To help them with that, family members and friends stocked their home with fresh groceries and put some prepared meals in the refrigerator and freezer. As I was driving to the church to deliver the meal my wife had prepared for them (a big tray of her homemade lasagna), it suddenly occurred to me that they had just spent two months in Italy being fed every day by an expert Italian chef, and we were now greeting them upon their arrival home with a big tray of Italian food! Oh well, our intentions were good anyway.
Fortunately, on this side of the cross, in the New Testament Age, we are free to eat what we want (or not!). In Mark 7:14-19 Jesus did away with all the Old Testament dietary laws that were given to the Jews in the book of Leviticus. Those restrictions had their purpose for those people in that day, but the New Testament Age was to be marked by a tremendous amount of freedom and flexibility in how the people of God could practice their faith – and compulsory dietary laws would not be part of it. To clarify and emphasize that point, the Apostle Paul dedicated lots ink and paper in his New Testament writings to teaching about this new freedom of choice when it comes to food.
Personally, I love to eat. I enjoy food very much. Food is a gift from God. So are taste buds – and it didn’t need to be that way. God could have created food simply as a source of fuel for the body. He didn’t have to make it tasty and He didn’t have to give us taste buds. But He make it tasty and He did give us taste buds simply so we could enjoy it, and I’m very glad He did. I’m also grateful that Jesus took away all those restrictions (and all you bacon lovers should be shouting some hearty hallelujahs too!).
Those dietary restrictions were one part of the Old Testament that didn’t carry over into the New Testament. Tomorrow we will think about how we can know which commands, instructions, and principles in the Old Testament carry over to the New, and which don’t.