To Fast Or Not To Fast?
Fasting –the practice of refraining from food—is an important part of most religions. Ramadan is a major annual fast for Moslems. Committed Jews also practice this discipline. In the first century the Pharisees fasted every week —on Monday and Thursday interceding for their nation (Luke 18:12). There was a strong precedent for this emphasis in their Scriptures. King David fasted after he committed adultery and then murder as he pleaded with God to spare his baby boy (2 Samuel 12:16-20). Prophets declared that God would return and forgive if His people would only repent expressed in genuine weeping and fasting (Joel 2:12-13). In the Persian period when a decree threatened her people, Esther called for a three day fast from food and drink as her people prayed before she went before the King.
In the time of Jesus John the Baptist’s disciples joined the Pharisees and regularly fasted, but Jesus and His disciples didn’t. Why not?
“They said to Him, ‘The disciples of John fast frequently and pray. The Pharisees also do the same, but those with you are eating and drinking.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? There will come a time when the bridegroom will be taken away from them. Then in that day they will fast.’” - Luke 5:33-35
The joyous anticipation of a marriage is not a time for crying and not eating. In response to the question about fasting Jesus makes a powerful claim. He is Israel’s bridegroom—a role God plays in the Old Testament. He is now present on earth with His disciples; therefore, it’s time for them to celebrate, not to grieve and fast.
Then Jesus gives us a foreshadowing of where events are going.
He will be taken away and then His disciples will fast. We will have to wait until Luke’s climax and resolution to find out when and how Jesus was taken away, but at this point in the Story one thing is clear. The same Pharisees who raised serious questions about Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors don’t like the fact that He doesn’t join them in the discipline of regular fasting.
LORD, thanks that You reveal that Your presence brings joyous feasting and not painful times of sorrow for those who decide to follow You. Now that You are no longer physically present on earth, help me to long for your return—wanting it so much that it will move me to not want to eat as I pray for Your coming.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!
You can also listen to weekly messages from Dave on OnePlace.com.