Mark 7:16-20

Mark 7:16 (KJB)
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

These words are spoken by Jesus many times and it has nothing to do with physical ears. Many people heard the teachings of Jesus with their physical ears and rejected it. The ears that Jesus has in view in this passage are the ears of the saved, those whose spiritual understanding has been opened and they hear and understand. This is why in church a saved person listens to the sermon while the unsaved person doodles on his bulletin. Both are physically hearing the message but only one hears and understands. When Jesus states “let him hear,” He is saying they are to hear with the desire to take seriously what has been said and to heed its admonishment.

Mark 7:17 (KJB)
And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

(Mat 15:15 KJV) Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.  Peter then asked the Lord to give him understanding concerning the parable. In the early training of the disciples in the synagogues, they were also filled with the false teachings of the Pharisees which were filled with spiritual ignorance and ingrained prejudice. The disciples, by asking Jesus to explain further, were trying to peel away the learned ignorance and come to the truth of what the Scriptures were teaching.

Mark 7:18 (KJB)
And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

The question Jesus asks them would be one which would be one of admonishment. It seems they did not understand the connection between food and defilement. It is perhaps the disciples had followed the law of Moses and in it was much about certain foods which were permitted to eat and those which were not. The disciples were probably making an association between the unclean foods under the law and sin if one eats them in violation of the law. The disciples had been walking with Jesus for well over two years now and Jesus turns to them and asks them if they were yet without understanding? They should have known the teaching skills and the symbols which Jesus used in teaching, especially in teaching by visible examples such as trees or plants. Understanding would come to the disciples more fully on the day of Pentecost.

Mark 7:19 (KJB)
Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

Jesus then explains that when a person eats food, it goes into their mouth and then into their stomach and the waste matter goes into the latrine. This is a purely physical process and has nothing whatsoever to do with whether a person is defiled or not. In other words, He was asking the question as to how a physical process like eating and digestion or a ceremony can affect the spiritual condition of a person? It cannot affect a person’s spiritual condition or else we would be able to eat our way into Heaven.

Mark 7:20 (KJB)
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

It is not the food which goes into a man that defiles him but what comes out of the mouth. Jesus is making this a question of the stomach versus the heart. (Prov 4:23 KJV) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. When someone speaks evil of something, it is because they are evil or unsaved, and what they believe in the heart will be verbalized in the mouth and many times it is manifested in evil works. We saw how the evil people had rejected and hated the Lord Jesus Christ and the disciples when they began to teach and preach the Gospel. That hatred came out of a wicked heart and not out of eating certain foods. The external forms and ceremonies which were added to the law of God in the oral law only serve to puff up the flesh and make someone think more highly of themselves than they should be thinking. It is possible to keep all kinds of rituals and still be far from God. (Isa 29:13 KJV) Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: