Luke – Doors Wide Open!
I know I am going out on a limb here, so hang on for a few moments. People do not know what Biblical “fasting” really is. It is not just a matter of skipping a few meals for a day, it is stopping, bring life to a slow stop. It is leaving the normal routine to think only of God and what HE wants. It is leaving life’s everyday demands physically (meals), mentally (thinking), emotionally (feelings), and spiritually (faith) and putting all focus on God for a period of time.
Yes, “fasting” needs to renamed in our world of hurry, impatience and the desire for speed of instant results, for there is nothing “fast” about it. True fasting is a slow process. It is a daily activity. It is beginning each day with focus on growing in Christ by asking God what HE wants for us today as we prepare ourselves, mind, heart, body and soul for His return. (He IS coming back, you know.) So that we can understand the concept of finding focus on God, maybe “pausing” would be a better name for us today.
I “paused” a couple of days ago to stop the normal to ask God what He thought about people and situations that were affecting my life. I didn’t stop doing the needed tasks for that day but I paused to pray throughout the day. I did skip regular meals to feel physical hunger that reminded me of my spiritual hunger for God’s wisdom. I paused from media to tune my ears and mind to hearing God more clearly. I paused to be still in my mind before God so that HIS will would dissolve my will. I finally stopped thinking altogether and just listened. With all distractions gone, focus on God became much easier. I cannot just grab a little of God, here and there, and be living a life of extreme faith.
Jesus said in our next passage on fasting, ““Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” GOD, through His Son, Jesus, was standing right in front of them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If the scribes and Pharisees could not recognize God and focus on His glory then, how difficult it is for us it is now…IF we do not “pause” or “fast” to be with Him in Spirit each day.
Luke 5, NLT
A Discussion about Fasting
33 One day some people said to Jesus, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking?”
34 Jesus responded, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. 35 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.
37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
PAUSE TO DIVE A LITTLE DEEPER…
The scribes and Pharisees were not only upset at the disciples’ friends, but also at their obvious joy as they fellowshipped with Jesus and the guests. We get the impression that the Pharisees experienced little if any joy in the practice of their religion (see Matt. 6:16; Luke 15:25–32).
Jesus was “a man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3), but He was also filled with joy (Luke 10:21; John 15:11; 17:13).
Jewish weddings lasted a week and were times of great joy and celebration. By using this image, Jesus was saying to His critics, “I came to make life a wedding feast, not a funeral. If you know the Bridegroom, then you can share His joy.” He said that one day He would be “taken away,” which suggested rejection and death; but meanwhile, there was good reason for joy, for sinners were coming to repentance.
Fasting is found often in the Old Testament, but nowhere is it commanded in the New Testament. However, the example of the prophets and the early church is certainly significant for believers today. Our Lord’s words in Matthew 6:16–18 assume that we will fast (“when,” not “if”), and passages like Acts 13:1–3 and 14:23 indicate that fasting was a practice of the early church.
What about the “garment”? Jesus did not come to patch up the old; He came to give the new. The Pharisees would admit that Judaism was not all it could be, and perhaps they hoped that Jesus would work with them in reviving the old religion. But Jesus showed the foolishness of this approach by contrasting two garments, an old one and a new one. If you take a patch from a new garment and sew it to an old garment, you ruin both of them. The new garment has a hole in it, and the old garment has a patch that does not match and that will tear away when the garment is washed.
In Scripture, garments are sometimes used to picture character and conduct (Col. 3:8–17). Isaiah wrote about a “robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10; see also 2 Cor. 5:21), and he warned against our trusting our own good works for salvation. Many people have a “patchwork” religion of their own making, instead of trusting Christ for the robe of salvation that He gives by grace.
This gives another reason to pause/fast/focus as we “get dressed” Spiritually each morning. What will the world see?
Will they see Christ in us?
Will they see the characteristics of Christ in our behavior?
Will our extreme faith in God be evident by our body language, speech and loving service to God and others?
Now, about those wineskins...If unfermented wine is put into brittle old wineskins, the gas will burst the skins, and both the skins and the wine will be lost. The new life of the Spirit could not be forced into the old wineskins of Judaism. Jesus was revealing that the ancient Jewish religion was getting old and would soon be replaced (see Heb. 8:13).
The things in the ceremonial law were fulfilled by Jesus Christ, so there is no need today for sacrifices, priests, temples, and ceremonies. All of God’s people are priests who bring spiritual sacrifices to the Lord (1 Peter 2:5, 9). The tables of law have been replaced by the tables of the human heart, where God’s Spirit is writing the Word and making us like Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:1–3, 18).
Jesus Christ still offers “all things new” (Rev. 21:5). As the Physician, He offers sinners new life and spiritual health. As the Bridegroom, He brings new love and joy. He gives us the robe of righteousness and the wine of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18; see also Acts 2:13). Life is a feast, not a famine or a funeral, and Jesus Christ is the only one who can make that kind of a difference in our lives.
PAUSE/FAST/FOCUS on Christ right now. Renew your relationship daily. This is the way to know Christ and hear His Holy Spirit more intimately, with understanding, as you would anyone who you love deeply and long to be with consistently.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your continued Holy Presence in our lives. We understand the need to pause, fasting from the thinking of this world, to be still, to listen, and to recognize Your Presence with gratefulness and praise. You are God and we are not. Your ways and thinking are higher, always, than ours. So help us to remember to fast/pause/focus daily until you come for your own. Keep us close to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen