“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” Mark 7:14-15
I used to believe that God could not be in the presence of sin. In fact, that was part of the way I would have described the gospel: God can’t be in the presence of sin, we are sinners, and if we want to restore relationship with God he must forgive our sin through Jesus. This may be the story of the gospel you have been taught too, but it does not reflect the scriptures. The reality is, Jesus spent the majority of his time with “sinners.” If we believe that Jesus is God, which is a key tenet of being a Christian, how can we reconcile Jesus’ ministry with the belief that he can’t be around sin? A more accurate belief is that sin cannot handle being in the presence of God. God doesn’t build the wall between us, we do.
That is part of what Jesus is getting at when he says, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” To illustrate, Jesus then goes to the region of Tyre, the proverbial pit of dirtiness. He is not defiled by Tyre but instead he casts evil from it. This is the way of Jesus. Jesus enters into your brokenness and mine and is not defiled by it but wants to dispel it from our worlds.
If you are like me, there are areas of brokenness and sin that you long to be rid of. It’s comforting to know that Jesus is not at all threatened by our sin. This text also teaches us how to cooperate with Jesus in those dark places. Notice the way Jesus interacts with the woman from Tyre (representing the dark place). She genuinely longs for restoration, she goes to the right person with that desire, and she begs Jesus to dispel the evil spirit oppressing her daughter.
What is Tyre in your own life? Now, close your eyes and imagine that area of brokenness as a dark room in your soul. Now imagine Jesus waking into that room and turning on the lights to reveal all the filth. Imagine his posture toward that mess. He is not threatened, he is not panicked. Now ask him to help you start cleaning it up.
By Aaron Bjorklund