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Reading through the Gospels 47

Mark 2:18-22, Matthew 9:14-17, Luke 5:33-39


Mark 2:18-22, Matthew 9:14-17, Luke 5:33-39 JESUS IS QUESTIONED ABOUT FASTING

John's disciples and the Pharisees' disciples were fasting. The people questioned why Jesus's disciples were not fasting.  Jesus gives three answers.  In all three answers, Jesus indicates fasting is no longer necessary; however, Jesus himself fasted when he was tempted in the desert, so it is not wrong to fast as long as it is with the right motivation.


1. "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day." John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Lord. However, Jesus's disciples did not need to prepare as they were already with the Lord. His disciples are already at the feast.  The Pharisees disciples were fasting for a show and an outward sign to other people of how holy they were which is the wrong motive for fasting.  Luke calls answers 2 and 3 an parable.


Fasting is an inner discipline that denies oneself and puts the focus on Christ.  Fasting empties the body of food; repentance empties the life of sin. Fasting makes me look inward at my own sins, recognize them, and feel sorry for them.


When the bridegroom is taken away, they will fast in that day.  The bridgegroom was taken away from us on the cross, but He came back three days later and is now with us everywhere we go and in our hearts. So the period of time that the bridegroom was taken away was short.


2.  "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made." Luke's version continues 'and the piece from the new will not match the old." Jesus is not the patch; Jesus is the fix. If you put a new piece of material over a hole in a pair of jeans and then wash the jeans later, the new piece will shrink and not fit the hole anymore. Once it is misaligned, it is no longer smooth and flat, leaving it the chance to snag and be pulled away. In the end, the hole tends to get bigger unprotected.  A patch is just a temporary fix. Jesus did not come to put a temporary patch on an old religious system of rules and traditions, but rather to start something new. Fasting is an old tradition that cannot be covered up by something new.


3. "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins." New wine expands as it ages, stretching the wineskin. Today's winemakers leave a little room in the glass bottle for the wine to expand.  A wineskin that had already been stretched to its limits could not expand any more with the new wine or the stitching would burst and the new wine would spill out and be destroyed.  People can be stiff-necked just like an old wineskin and not expand to accept the new. The Pharisees were these stiff-necked people not ready for the new that Jesus was bringing. Jesus is indicating that He is bringing something new that cannot be put into something old. Fasting is an old tradition that is no longer fitting for the new promises that Jesus brings. Luke adds "And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good." When we drink something for so long we become comfortable with it, we have no desire to change and improve things.  What we have is good enough. We get stuck in a rut of "We never did it that way before" thinking the old traditions worked for so long and stood the test of time, so they must be the right way to do things.

Copyright Cheryl Rutledge-Brennecke
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