Friday 19 February 2010

Bible Book:

"Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?'" (v.14)

Matthew 9:14-15 Friday 19 February 2010


It must have been hard for the disciples of John the Baptist tosee Jesus and his followers tucking into a Sunday roast! They hadstarted as two closely connected groups but were now slowlydrifting apart. John was in prison, his number of followers weredwindling and they were maintaining the traditional fast days. Incontrast, Jesus seemed to get invited to lots of parties! Is this acase of the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence?Were John's disciples peeved that they were not included?

Maybe there is a deeper issue going on here. John the Baptist andthe Pharisees were anticipating the coming of God's rule. They werelooking for the dawn to break. Jesus on the other hand wassuggesting that it had already come. He was saying that the sun hadalready broken through the mist and was illuminating the world. Itis all to do with perspective: do we look solely to the future ordo we also rejoice in what is found in the here and now?

Feasting and fasting were an integral part of Jewish life. Theirobservation helped mark the seasons, created a rhythm to life andbrought contrast to the passage of time. The sharing of food andabstaining from its consumption were powerful ways of bondingsociety together.

Jesus did not gather disciples under false pretenses. He warnedthem that the time would come when the bridegroom would be takenaway. Then there would be the need tofast. This is not 'cheap grace'. This is a call to toughdiscipleship that brings both joy and demand.

To Ponder

How do you advise someone if they appear toalways see the grass greener on the other side of the field?

The advertising industry is driven by telling uswhat we might possess in the future. How can we rejoice in what wehave in the present? What are the distinct pressures that youngpeople feel in this regard?

Do you use food to mark the seasons? Are theretimes when you abstain from food? If you do, what do you gain?

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