Read Matthew 9:16-17
As someone who highly anticipates his next meal, the idea of fasting is neither fun nor comfortable.
This is also what makes it such an effective technique to refocus on God. By forgoing food, you develop spiritual discipline. Each time a pang of hunger hits, you can remind yourself of who you serve and show your devotion to Him by refraining from a bite.
Many of the Bible’s greatest heroes, including Moses (Exodus 34:28), Saul (Acts 14:23), and David (2 Samuel 12:1612:16) fasted. Earlier in this study, we saw Jesus Himself fast for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-17).
So why does Jesus appear to take ani-fasting stance here?
“Then John’s disciples came and asked Him ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, 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.’”
I think Jesus meant that there is a time and place for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), including fasting. And the time was not while Jesus was among them.
The Pharisees fasted to impress others with their spirituality (Matthew 6:16-18); there’s never any use for this type of sacrifice. John the Baptist and his disciples had more pure intentions, but they were fasting in anticipation of Jesus’ arrival (Matthew 3:1-3) when in fact He was already among them!
This is why Jesus uses the example of the wedding. A wedding is a joyous occasion worthy of celebration. But imagine if wedding attendees mourned the couple’s eventual deaths during the wedding rather than fulling experiencing and appreciating this wonderful moment?
Similarly, Jesus called these disciples to celebrate and appreciate the time He was on earth with them. He would eventually return to Heaven, at which a time for fasting would return. But they needed to live in the moment; their Savior was in their midst!
What does this mean to us? While we obviously don’t have the opportunity to physically see Jesus here on earth, we have received His Holy Spirit that exists within us (Acts 15:8). His presence is something to be appreciated and celebrated.
Fasting is by no means a bad thing, and we believe there are seasons where we are called to fast. But also allow yourself to enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit while awaiting Jesus’ return.