The Joyous Company
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"Read more
With the stricter Jews, fasting was a regular practice. In the Jewish religion, The Day of Atonement was the only day in the year when there was a compulsory fast. The day when the nation confessed and was forgiven its sin was The Fast, par excellence. But the stricter Jews fasted on two days every week, on Monday and Thursday. It is to be noted that fasting was not as serious as it sounds, for the fast lasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and after that, regular food could be eaten.
Jesus is not against fasting as such. There are very good reasons why a man might fast. He might deny himself things he likes for the sake of discipline, to be certain that he is the master of them and not they of him, to make sure that he never grows to love them so well that he cannot give them up. He might deny himself comforts and pleasant things so that, after self-denial, he might appreciate them all the more. One of the best ways to learn to value our homes is to have to stay away from home for a time, and one of the best ways to appreciate God's gifts is to do without them for a period.
There are good reasons for fasting. The trouble with the Pharisees was that in far too many cases, their fasting was for self-display. It was to call the attention of men to their goodness. They actually whitened their faces and went about with disheveled garments on their fast days so that no one could miss the fact that they were fasting and so that everyone would see and admire their devotion. It was to call the attention of God to their piety. They felt that this special act of extra piety would bring them to the notice of God. Their fasting was a ritual and a self-displaying ritual at that. To be of any value, fasting must not be the result of a ritual; it must be the expression of a feeling in the heart.
My Life Application
Do you ever take a spiritual fast? If so, do you do it in a way that nobody knows, or do you do it as a public display? Let it be between you and God.
My Prayer and Praise
Dear Father God; I am so thankful that my display of meeting with You is something private. There is a time to reveal You to my friends because I want people to know that I have a love relation with You. I need to be with You every day all day long. Thank You for Your love for me. Amen!