Fasting, A Matter of the Heart…

New Testament Journey Day 38: Matthew 9:14-17. Religious Leaders Ask Jesus about Fasting.

One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast often like we do and the Pharisees do?” Jesus replied “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old wineskins would burst from all the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:14-17

John’s disciples fasted (went without food) as a sign of mourning for sin and preparation for the Messiah’s coming. Jesus’ disciples did not need to fast because he is the Messiah and was with them! Jesus did not condemn fasting – he himself fasted – we read that in Matthew 4:2. Jesus always emphasized that fasting should be done for the right reasons.

John the Baptist’s message was strong and it focused on the law. When people look at God’s law and compare themselves to it, they realize how far they fall short and how badly they need to repent. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Jesus’ message focused on life, the result of turning from sin and turning to him. John’s disciples had the right start, but they needed to take the next step and trust in Jesus. Where is your focus – on law or on Christ?

This is where many get it wrong today and think that it’s a list of do’s and don’ts they can never keep and they are not good enough so why even try? Or they go the other direction – and think that because Jesus is love it’s a license to sin and say “Jesus loves me no matter what.” Jesus does love you – but YOU should fall so in love with HIM that it’s no longer a list of “do’s and don’ts” you don’t want to sin because you are in relationship, and in love with Jesus because you understand what he has done for YOU.

The wineskins… Jesus used this description to explain that he had not come to patch up the old religious system of Judaism with its rules and traditions. His purpose was to bring in something new, though it had been prophesied for centuries. This new message, the Good News, said that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to earth to offer all people forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. The Good News did not fit into the old rigid legalistic system of religion. It needed a fresh start. The message will always remain “new” because it must be accepted and applied in every generation. When we follow Christ, we must be prepared for new ways to live, ne ways to look at people, and new ways to serve.

**Excerpts Taken from Life Application Study Bible

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