What Did Jesus Say about Fasting?

What Did Jesus Say about Fasting?

Have you ever thought about what it really means to fast? During the time of Jesus, fasting was a common ritual done in order to bring people closer to God to find His will for their lives. Many of the religious leaders abused the procedure and used it to gain recognition and power. This is where the story begins. But, what did Jesus say about fasting? And what do His teachings mean for us?

Today,  the Bible study lesson centers around Matthew 6:16-18, where Jesus speaks about the practice of fasting. The teachings of Jesus examine the significance of this spiritual discipline in our lives today. So, let’s uncover the wisdom and guidance that Jesus offers.

What Did Jesus Really Say about Fasting?

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.

Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:16-18 NASB

What is fasting?

Dictionary.ComTM describes the word fast as ..

“1. to abstain from all food.

2. to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, esp. as a religious observance. “

Why Fast?

Fasting, going without to spend time in prayer, is both noble and difficult. It:

  • gives us time to pray,
  • teaches self-discipline,
  • reminds us that we can live with less,
  • and helps us appreciate God’s gifts.

But, it also tests our strength and endurance, and challenges us to rely on God for sustenance.

Fasting for the Right Reasons

Jesus was not condemning the act of fasting, but hypocrisy — doing things to gain public approval. Jesus’ message was that true fasting should be done out of genuine faith, not for show.

In fact, fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32).

The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice per week to impress the people with their “holiness”. But, they were not doing it for the right reasons — only to be seen as religious leaders. The Pharisees fasted to make themselves look good, not out of genuine spiritual motivation.

These people, Jesus says;have received their reward in full.” Christ knew their reasons and taught about it.

Fasting in Secret

Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not for selfish desire or praise.

Christ says to go about your normal daily routine when you fast. In other words, don’t make a show of it. Jesus wanted people to recognize that fasting was an act of devotion, not of pride or self-seeking.

Worship vs. Pride

As we have seen through the last few passages of Matthew Jesus shows how pride can get in our way of true worship. Jesus teaches that true worship comes from a place of humility and understanding, not a place of pride and arrogance.

Jesus states, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” ~ Matthew 23:12

Natural Tendencies

Yes, we all possess a tendency to be recognized, don’t we? For example, what do people want most out of their work (career)?

Surveys show that the majority of workers cited recognition for good service and effort as one of the top wants from their superiors.

So, in order to please God, we must sometimes do things that feel “unnatural” to us like abandoning the need for recognition when we do something for God. Ultimately, it is through sacrifice (big or small) that we are able to please God and grow closer to Him.

– Lord, help us to be more humble. d:-)

Love in Christ

– Bob

If you want to find out more about how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please go here.



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