Jesus said to them, 'The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they?' (v. 19)

Mark 2:18-22 Tuesday 23 October 2018

Psalm: Psalm 18:1-19


There were always plenty of opportunities for the ‘religious police’ to criticise Jesus, but his critics also went looking for more. John’s followers, and the ultra-religious, were fasting. People came and asked Jesus, “All the really religious people fast but your lot don’t, what’s going on?”

Jesus responded, “Who decides not to eat when they’re at a banquet? No one. But it’s a New World Order – I’m here, inviting everyone to the party, but I won’t always be here and they can fast then. In the meantime, it’s time for some new thinking — no one repairs things with worn out spare parts because they’ll break down even more. No one attempts to fill old beer bottles with champagne! If you’re making champagne you bottle it properly.” This challenge didn’t get them very far so they lurked around for another opportunity …

We have a sense, if we read the whole Gospel, and I really recommend reading it in large chunks (this is how it is supposed to be read, not in small lectionary doses), of an endless series of Jesus’ critics popping up, even hiding behind the wheat and saying the first irritating thing that comes to them. Jesus always finds a way of being both super irritating and getting a really simple point across in an embarrassing and hard-hitting way. The more we inhabit his words (to pick up what Rowan Williams, former-Archbishop of Canterbury, said about scripture), the less he seems like church as we know it and the more we might see the Church in the words and outlook of Jesus’ opponents. And yes, he really is telling us that we should be fasting, perhaps in solidarity with Jewish and Muslim friends in their religious observances.


To Ponder

  • What are we missing out on if we don’t fast?
  • How could fasting be a part of your spiritual life?
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