One of my most vivid memories of going to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is seeing the dozens of spigots lined up with men washing their hands and their feet in front of the running water from these spigots. In Islam before you enter a Mosque you must be ceremonially clean, your hands and your feet must be presentable to the Lord. There is something powerful about washing yourself before you enter the presence of the Lord. From a Christian perspective there is nothing more sacred about entering a church than there is in entering your home, or entering a story. God is present in all places and in all situations. But that should not remove the urgency and the need for us to be ceremonially, or better yet metaphorically, clean. Going through life with the intent of keeping clean, in the sense that Jesus uses this word here in chapter 7, is a great goal. Look at vs. 20-23 and you use one of the rare times that Jesus actually calls out sin by name. The list that he gives is, unfortunately, contains activities which we commonly include in our daily lives. The goal is to eliminate them from our hearts, and the only way to do that is by asking if all that we want and all that we do is focused on the presence and the desire of the Lord.
We already touched on the Syrophoenician woman. Look at how Jesus heals the deaf and the mute man at the end of this chapter. We don’t see Jesus taking such a hands on approach in healing someone as he does here, except in John 9:6 where he spits in mud and places it on the blind man’s eyes. I like seeing the details in what Jesus actually did in order to heal people. Sure, he could just say the word and the person is healed, which happens in the vast majority of the times. But to actually use the elements at his disposal allows me to think that maybe, just maybe, he needed to get across that God is the great healer in a very practical, hands on kind of way. I like that.