In my last post I said that the New Testament fast is totally different than that of the old. I base this upon the words of Jesus Himself when He was questioned about fasting by the disciples of John the Baptist.
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
When asked why He didn’t make His disciples fast, Jesus replied that they were not going to mourn while He was here with them. The Old Testament fast was a humbling process before God for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was the fulfillment of this. Humiliation for sin was finished – God’s provision had arrived.
The Lord then goes on to talk about the “new patch” and the “new wineskins” in the next verses (v16-17). Most Christians have no idea that Jesus was talking about fasting when He gave these illustrations.
It’s obvious to me that the Lord didn’t want the disciples to get confused. This would have happened if He made them fast according to Old Testament tradition, and then later on tried to teach them the New Covenant fast. He must have felt it was better to start them off correctly right from the beginning.
That’s also why I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the Old Testament fast. Under the law, fasting was a whole different thing than in the New Testament church. Unfortunately, many Christians have no idea what the fast is all about now. It’s my prayer that you will by the end of this series.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
The first thing we see here is that Jesus said, “When you fast…” Preachers are always quick to point out to their people that Jesus said, “When you pray…” They explain that it means Jesus expects prayer to be a regular part of the Christian walk. They do the same thing with “When you give…” What happened to fasting?
It seems to me that the Lord wants fasting to be just as much a part of our lives. Many of us ignore it and think our walk with God will not suffer for it. Jesus assumed that fasting was to be a regular part of the Christian walk. I believe that most of us don’t understand it, and that’s why it is not practiced.
Question: How important is fasting in your walk with God?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013