Friday, December 24, 2021
14 A little later, John’s followers approached, asking, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees rigorously discipline body and spirit by fasting, but your followers don’t?”
15 Jesus told them, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to exercise moderation, but not now. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!”
16-17 He went on, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.”
-Matthew 8:14-17 The Message
The Question about Fasting
Verse 14: Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
Verse 14 study: John’s disciples did go without food. In other words, they fasted. They fasted because it was a sign of mourning for sin. and to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. Now, Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast because they were with the Messiah, and he was with them! But, if you remember, Jesus fasted and is recorded in 4:2. So, he didn’t condemn fasting; he wanted people to know to fast for the right reason.
John’s message was harsh, and it was focused on law. Think about this; when you look at God’s law and compare it to yourself, do you realize how far short you are and need to repent? I admit, I’m always short of the law and need to do some serious repenting. Jesus’ message focused on life, resulting from turning sin and turning to him. Now, John’s disciples had the right start, but they had to take the next step and trust Jesus. Where do you see your focus? On the law or on Christ?
Verse 15: And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the groom cannot mourn as long as the groom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the groom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Verse 15 study: With the bridegroom present, it wasn’t suitable to fast for the disciples because the arrival of the kingdom of heaven was like a wedding feast with Jesus as a bridegroom. The disciples were filled with joy, so it didn’t feel suitable to fast.
Verse 16: 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.
Verse 17: 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.”
Verse 17 study: Wine was not kept in glass bottles. It was held in goatskins sewn around the edges to form watertight bags. New wine did expand, which stretched its wineskin. The stretched skin burst if more wine was poured into it after it aged. Therefore, the new wine was always put into fresh wineskin.
Jesus’ purpose in coming was not to clean up the religious system of Judaism with its rules and traditions. If he did that, it would have damaged it. His purpose is to bring something new, even though it was prophesied for centuries. The new message, the gospel, said that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to earth to offer all people forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. The system they had, the old rigid, legalistic system of religion, did not fit with the gospel. So, it needed a new start. The message will always remain “new’ because it is and must be accepted and applied to every generation. When we follow Christ, we have to be prepared to live in new ways, look at people in new ways, and serve in new ways.
There is more to life when you are in our lives. Fasting helps me focus on you and focus on what I shouldn’t be focused on. So, father, I pray today that fasting is part of everyone’s lives. That not only focuses on you but also on the new ways to do things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.