Jesus Questioned About Fasting

Jesus Questioned About Fasting

Mark 2:18-22

 by Patrick Griffey

So far in Jesus’ ministry in Mark, He performs miracles of healing, preaches the Gospel and begins to revolutionize the way people view the church as is. Jesus’ main audience throughout His ministry is the Jewish people, which is why He catches so much heat from the teachers of the law; Jesus is teaching a new teaching that does not mix well with the old teachings. Jesus makes that clear in our passage for today.

When we hear the word “fasting,” we tend to think of it in terms of food. The term break-fast comes from eating in the morning after fasting at nighttime while we sleep. Fasting is so much more than just food though. One of my most convicting experiences with fasting came after I gave a report on Catherine Marshall’s “A Fasting on Criticalness” in my graduate class. It spoke to me so much that I decided to do my own fast from criticalness. The results were quite telling. The day happened to be a Wednesday and the youth ministry was still picking up middle school students from school for PTL. On the way back to the church, a student asked me if I was okay because I had been unnaturally quiet and it instantly occurred to me that because I was fasting from being critical, I had almost nothing to say! That was quite telling and convicted me on the spot. The idea of fasting is to give up something in order to focus more on the Lord. When people give up social media for Lent, the intention should be that they recognize how much time and joy social media is taking away from them. When we give up chocolate for Lent, it should be that we understand how sugar can be unhealthy at times and a crutch in times of stress. When I fasted on criticalness, I discovered that my spirit is much more critical than I previously perceived.

What Jesus is talking about here is that the disciples need not fast because they are literally in the presence of the Lord. We fast so that the Lord will speak to us about ourselves and we can grow in a closer relationship with Him. When the disciples are spending time face to face with the Lord constantly, there is no need to fast! Jesus was Himself critical of the ways that people were applying the old ways of doing things to this new teaching. They were so stuck on the old rules and regulations of the religion, they were not allowing themselves to see that the author of life was in their midst. They were attempting to frame Jesus’ teachings and force it into the rules they’d be taught from the teachers of the law but the teachers of the law had been so focused on legalism, they made that their focus! These people were in the very midst of their Creator, their Lord, their Savior and they were caught up on what man had been instructing.

There is so much that can be taken away from this passage and that is the beauty of Scripture. I may read this passage a year from now and the Lord may speak to me in a different way! Ponder the following questions as we close: What is the Lord calling me to fast from? What old ways am I hanging onto that are holding me back from embracing the Lord? What in my life have I elevated above the sovereignty of God?