Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Didn't The Disciples Fast?

Matthew’s banquet drew out another group of people who were having trouble accepting Jesus’ ways: John the Baptist's disciples.

They were fasting, as were the Pharisees, yet here were Jesus and His disciples having a big feast. John the Baptist was known for his devout personal discipline, and his disciples admired him for it, they copied John the Baptist. So they asked Jesus
"Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast? The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." [Matthew 9:14 with Luke 5:33]
Was Jesus against fasting? By no means! Jesus taught, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 6, how to fast in a way that pleased God. His answer to John's disciples was to teach them a deeper truth: the difference between the law and grace.

John’s disciples were living the old life, the life of legalism to earn the acceptance and forgiveness of God. Jesus was saying that His grace would burst the seams of this old life of earning acceptance, because grace is infinitely abundant, a gift that couldn’t possibly be earned.

Jesus used three word pictures:
1) The first was of a bridegroom with his guests. A Jewish wedding was all about joy, a week of feasting, all the friends and family came to eat at the new couple’s house. It was unthinkable to fast during that time, fasting was for sorrow.

Jesus was using a Messianic metaphor taken from the prophet Isaiah who referred to God as the Bridegroom. Jesus was saying the Messianic age had come, He was the Messiah. God's people had been mourning over their sin, waiting for the Messiah. Now the Messiah was here, it was time for celebration.

Have you ever really thought about what that means, that Jesus is your Bridegroom? All throughout the prophets God describes Himself as the Bridegroom: He chose you for Himself, He desires you and the Bible says He sings love songs to you. God exults over you and values you above even the life of His own Son, which He was willing to sacrifice for you.

The Bible says God thinks about you all the time, even when you’re asleep. He is faithful to you, He longs for the day when you will be together with Him, He even has your initials carved in the palms of His hands. He has sent you His word as a love letter.

How in love are you with your Bridegroom? Right now is the time of the Lord's favor, and your life can be a celebration of being with Jesus. What will you change this week to reflect your joy of being Jesus' bride?

[The other two illustrations come tomorrow]

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