Luke 5:33-35 (NIV) They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
The most devout people of Jesus’ day fasted twice a week. Some of this was pro forma, done simply because it was a traditional fast day. Some of the fasting was done in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the subsequent exile to Babylon. And some was done in legitimate repentance before God.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law had watched Jesus and His followers closely for a while, and they had noticed that He did not instruct them to fast regularly like they did, or even like John had instructed his followers to. It seemed impious to them, especially in light of Jesus’ conspicuous eating and drinking with tax collectors and “sinners.”
But Jesus had taught His followers something that these religious leaders had not yet realized: in Jesus, God’s kingdom was becoming real! At long last, the Messiah had arrived, and was even then in the process of making all things new! That wasn’t cause for sorrow or fasting. It was cause for celebration and rejoicing!
But Jesus also knew that in just a couple of short years His follower would fast, when He was taken away from them, killed, and buried. Those three days would fill the hearts and minds of the disciples with such deep darkness as they could not now imagine, and in that time, they would indeed fast – there would be something worth fasting about.
But even then Jesus knew that that would be only a short season of sadness, replaced stunningly with a time of such joy as no one could imagine. That time of joy would usher in the expanding reality of the kingdom, of Jesus followers living constantly in God’s presence, and experiencing first-hand all of His glory and power. The time of fasting out of remembrance of past tragedy and God’s past judgment was drawing quickly to a close!
Father, thank You for this encouragement. Sometimes we see so clearly the problems around us that we forget that we are living in the days of the reality of your kingdom. The Savior has come, and has defeated death and sin, and we get to live in that reality, in Your presence and in Your power! Help that to be my theme today, and every day from now on. Amen.