TEXT: Matthew 9:14-17
14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
William Temple said, “If we had the Bridegroom always with us, we should never need observances such as fasting. But the Bridegroom leaves us sometimes, and then we cannot do without them. He has left us, and the Church has found just what He predicted, that much which was needless while He stayed became needful when He was gone.”
We all like the ideas that feasting connotes. We like to celebrate, eat, drink, and have a good time. When Jesus was with His disciples, that is what they experienced most of the time. In spite of the opposition that they received, there were no “down days” when one was with Jesus. Even those who met Jesus in passing went away with celebration. At one point, Jesus was on his way into a city as a funeral procession was on its way out of the city. A widow’s son had died and they were on their way to bury him. Jesus stopped the procession and raised the widow’s son from the dead. Without a doubt, those people who had awakened with a funeral on their agenda went home and feasted.
The life that Jesus led his disciples in was a small fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The Lord of hosts shall make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines well refined… He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” One day, that prophecy will be true for everyone who follows Christ. However, when Jesus’ ascended to Heaven, the time of near-constant celebration were over. Jesus tells John’s disciples, “The days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” We are living in those days when we are separated from the physical presence of the bridegroom, thus it is appropriate for us as Christians to fast as fasting helps draw us closer to God as we abstain from some of the comforts and enjoyments of this world.
The Anglican commentator John Trapp drew three principles from Jesus’ solemn words, “then they shall fast.”
1. He said, “Fasting is not abolished with the ceremonial law, but it is still to be used as a duty of the Gospel.” Every Christian who has fasted for spiritual reasons will testify to the benefits of drawing away from earthly pleasures in order to grow more attuned to God. Extended times of fasting and prayer give us the time and space we need to examine our hearts, see ourselves as God sees us, repent of sin, and gain power for Gospel-impact ministry service.
2. He said, “Times of heaviness are times of humiliation.” If we are in a constant state of celebration, we have a tendency to become less vigilant in our spiritual lives and otherwise. That is why we are told to be sober-minded (or serious-minded) in Scripture. It is good to fast, to go to the house of mourning, and to weep with those who weep. We need to remain aware of the darkness that is in the world, because it is our job as Christians to shine a light in it.
3. He said, “Our times of celebrations are marriage-feasts for continuance and remembrance; they last not long.” Simply because the Bridegroom is not with us physically that does not mean we should never feast or celebrate. However, when we do celebrate, we ought to see it as a reminder of the Great Feast that we will partake of when we are finally united with Christ for eternity. The mini-celebrations we have down here ought to point us to the eternal celebration that we will have up there.
When we read the book of Acts, we do not often see the first Christians feasting and celebrating. There was much fasting, prayer, and persecution. However, they were engaged in a great mission that required them to stay vigilant and spiritually alert. We are engaged in that same mission, and it is appropriate for us to fast from time to time.
John M. Neale wrote:
O happy band of pilgrims,
If onward you will tread,
With Jesus as your fellow,
To Jesus as your head.
O happy if you labor,
As Jesus did for men;
O happy if you hunger
As Jesus hungered then.
The trials that beset you,
The sorrows you endure,
The manifold temptations
That death alone can cure.
What are they but His jewels
Of right celestial worth?
What are they but the ladder
Set up to heaven on earth?
O happy band of pilgrims,
Look upward to the skies,
Where such a light affliction
Shall win you such a prize.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.