¹⁴Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
¹⁵And 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.
¹⁶But 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. ¹⁷Nor 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.”
When Jesus sits at Matthew’s banquet, this not only angers the Pharisees, but also the disciples of John the Baptist.
Their problem is that Jesus is eating on a fasting day.
According to the church calendar at the time, fasting was required on Mondays and Thursdays.
In the Bible, fasting has to do with prayer and humiliation (cf. Nehemiah 9:1). Whoever fasts shows that he is willing to let go. Letting go of that which can stand in the way of prayer and its answer.
You abstain from things that are permissible in themselves, but which you renounce for a spiritual purpose (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
Fasting is an aid to prayer, something like the hands of Aaron and Hur, who were holding up the prayer staff of Moses (Exodus 17:12).
Fasting in those days was mainly done to hasten the coming of the Messiah and to humble themselves because of the sins of the “people that know not the law”.
But now that the Messiah is in their midst, there is no need to fast (Matthew 9:15). Soon it will be, between the ascension of Jesus and his return to earth. When the bride feels the pain of missing the Bridegroom, there will come times when she will again abstain (Matthew 9:15).
Sins or special circumstances will lead the congregation to do so.
If the disciples of John the Baptist want to make this cover, they will have to go after Jesus!
If you put a new piece of cloth on an old piece of clothing, you will notice that the shrinkage of the fabric will only cause the matter to break further.
And whoever puts new wine, which is still fully fermenting, in an old wineskin will find that the wineskin cannot withstand it.
In these examples of Jesus, we should not think of the old covenant, but of the religious practice that He finds.
No combination is possible between His salvation and that religious practice.
His salvation calls for a new practice of life, the practice of the superior righteousness as shown in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:17-20).
- When could fasting be useful in your life?
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