Bible Study Lesson, Matthew 9:14-17
What is fasting ? Why do people fast?Jesus explains fasting to the religious leaders in this Bible study lesson from Matthew.
What did Jesus say about fasting? There are lots of variations of how to fast, and why.
Fasting is a tradition passed on by many religions and cultures and is still practiced today by many Christians.
However, this lesson focuses on why the disciples of Jesus did not fast when He was present.
When in the Presence of Christ – Fasting is not Necessary – Jesus Explains Fasting to the Religious Leaders
Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they?
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results.
Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:14-17 NASB
What Is Fasting?
Many people are not completely sure what fasting means. Wikipedia(tm) explains fasting as:
“primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.
A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting.
Fasting practices may preclude sexual activity as well as food, in addition to refraining from eating certain types or groups of foods.
For example, one might refrain from eating meat. A complete fast in its traditional definition is abstinence of all food and liquids except for water.
Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since prehistory.
It is mentioned in the Bible, in both the Old Testament (the Tanach) and New Testament, the Qur’an, the Mahabharata, and the Upanishads.
Fasting is also practiced in many other religious traditions and spiritual practices.”
Who Were John’s Disciples?
In this passage, the disciples of John mentioned here are the followers of John the Baptist – the very one who announced the coming of Christ to the people.
Obedience of the Law
When reading about the ministry of John the Baptist we find that his message was one of the law and repentance.
As with us, people of this time period found it impossible to live up to every single letter of the law. They were very curious as to why Jesus’ disciples were not fasting according to the law.
It is fairly clear that John’s disciples did not completely understand the ministry of Jesus which was one of life – the second step after repentance.
They had not yet taken that step.
Mourning And Fasting
Jesus relates the kingdom of heaven as a bridal feast. He is the bridegroom and the disciples are the bride.
Weddings are happy occasions. Fasting and deprive are more in tune with mourning. A bride does not feel sadness when she is with the groom so fasting is not called for.
So, this passage is not so much about fasting as it’s about giving up the old ways of tradition and law.
Jesus brought a new ministry of forgiveness and the promise of everlasting life to those who believe.
What about Us?
[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”160″ identifier=”0310340756″ locale=”US” src=”https://makingchristknown.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/51KFnvbo4BL.SL160.jpg” tag=”bobpardphot-20″ width=”111″]Should we fast and mourn because of our past experiences?
Or, should we share the joy and future that is in Jesus Christ?
The choice is ours.
Love in Christ
If you are considering finding more about the experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read through John 3:16 for more information.