One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast 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 skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” Matthew 9:14-17 NLT
My Thoughts: We covered the subject of fasting in my blog Matthew 6:16-18 ( https://tinyurl.com/ycgzzbd9 ).
So let’s look at what’s really happening here: a little envy and absolutely some disgruntled comparisons!
Comparison…, how many times have I gotten myself in trouble by comparing what I have or don’t have, or what I do or don’t do with someone else? Too many, and this time I’m not sharing details!
Definition of comparison: An examination of two or more items to establish similarities and dissimilarities
John the Baptist’s (JTB) disciples saw a distinct difference between how they worshipped God, and how the disciples of Jesus worshipped God. What I love is JTB’s disciples went directly to Jesus to ask their question and express confusion. When we are confused about something Jesus wants us to seek answers from Him through prayer, looking for answers in the Bible, and by asking Godly men or women.
Where they went wrong was their hearts already had a pre-determined answer for the question and Jesus knew it. They believed Jesus and His disciples were not worshipping properly and they also didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. We already know the religious leaders had rejected Jesus as Messiah, so including the Pharisees in their comparison was a very bad idea!
Fasting, in the old religious laws, was a sign of mourning for sin and to prepare for the coming Messiah. Jesus’ disciples didn’t need to fast because Jesus is the Messiah and He was with the disciples. Jesus didn’t condemn fasting—He himself fasted, but Jesus wanted everyone to understand that fasting must be done for the right reasons. John’s disciples had the right start, but they needed to take the next step and trust in Jesus as the Messiah.
Whenever we compare, we usually focus on the wrong things which may only be a small piece of the larger picture, don’t you think? Perhaps their question should have been “Jesus, help us to understand why we are fasting and You and your disciples are not.” Their hearts would also require a change, and they would need to be willing to listen and learn, rather than accuse.
I love how my Life Application Study Bible summarizes these verses regarding Jesus and the old religious system: “His [Jesus] purpose was to bring in something new, though it had been 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 gospel did not fit into the old rigid legalistic system of religion. It needed a fresh start.”
I love getting a fresh and new start because the old is erased, and everything is new again!
Closing Prayer: Father God, we are so grateful for Jesus Christ, who died so we can not only have everlasting life, but we can also have a fresh new start. The old “me” is gone and I’ve been made new in Christ and I praise Him for that truth! Father I also pray that when we find ourselves in a position of comparing, before we get disgruntled and allow our feelings to make a mess of the situation, we STOP, DROP and PRAY. May we first ask for Your guidance to help us to have eyes to see the bigger picture before we embarrass and bring shame on ourselves! We ask this in the loving name of Jesus. Amen.