“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 friends 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.’ He told them this parable: ‘No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, “The old is better.’” Luke 5:33-39
Comparison…it often has both pride and covetousness at its heart. It can make us feel we are better than the people around us, or it can make us feel we don’t measure up. It very often makes us want more while disguising it as wanting less.
And so it was when the question came up about fasting. “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
Yes, at first glance it is just an observation, but can you hear the ring of pride in it? It is saying that they deprived themselves for their holiness, but the disciples of Jesus did not. It seems to have the tone that those who fast are just a little superior to those who don’t.
And what about prayer? If you say a lot of prayers that other people know you are saying, you are pretty good, aren’t you?
So here you have it. There were those who were doing the “holy” thing and those who were not.
But Jesus gave them the answer. The Bridegroom was sitting right there with them. They didn’t need to go without in order to create holiness because everything they needed was sitting with them. There He was. He was eating, talking, laughing, and enjoying His visit. They could enjoy His presence too. Holiness was right there with them. We don’t become holy by what we do. Holy means to be set apart. The only way to become holy is by Who you know, and His name is Jesus.
He is right here with us as well. Our calling is not to send the message that the life of following Jesus is a life that is without. Never! Rather it is life in its fullness.
Can we fast? Of course, but fasting is not about giving up. Instead, it is about making room. Make your life a little simpler and make more room for Jesus.
The men around that table didn’t have to make room for Him to come in. He was already in.
They only needed to see.