Gospel of Matthew

The Question about Fasting

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

William Barclay

  • The bridegroom and the wedding guests –>  A Jewish wedding was a time of special festivity. The unique feature of it was that the couple who were married did not go away for a honeymoon; they spent their honeymoon at home. For a week after the wedding open house was kept; the bride and bridegroom were treated as, and even addressed as, king and queen. And during that week their closest friends shared all the joy and all the festivities with them; these closest friends were called the children of the bridechamber. On such an occasion there came into the lives of poor and simple people a joy, a rejoicing, a festivity, a plenty, that might come only once in a lifetime. So Jesus compares himself to the bridegroom and his disciples to the bridegroom’s closest friends. How could a company like that be sad and grim? This was no time for fasting, but for the rejoicing of a lifetime. There are great things in this passage. (1) Tells us that to be with Jesus is a thing of joy, (2) tells us that no joy lasts forever here on earth, (3) challenges us to face the question: “Are you ready for both–the Christian joy and the Christian cross?”, (4) shows the courage of Jesus  who knows what God’s way costs, and who yet goes on.
  • In Jewish fasting there were really three main ideas in the minds of men:
    • (1) Fasting was a deliberate attempt to draw the attention of God to the person who fasted.
    • (2) Fasting was a deliberate attempt to prove that penitence was real.
    • (3) A great deal of fasting was vicarious.
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