Today's Lectionary Text
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Feasting is commemorating a special event. Fasting is abstaining from all food or eating sparingly on a certain day or for a period of time.
What is our motive? Spiritual or to make an impression?
The Pharisees were raised in legalism. You followed the law; very rigid and no changing.
What rules and regulations were we raised under? Spiritual or manmade?
John was in prison at this time and his disciples were fasting in sorrow for him. The Pharisees were fasting because it was the law and were making sure the crowd saw them to make an impression. “Impressive?”
The crowd asked Jesus about His disciples, as they were not fasting. Jesus explained, “No need, as the bride and bridegroom are still with them,” referring to the bride as the people of God and the bridegroom as God, who loved them. So, they were joyfully feasting as the bride and bridegroom were still with them. Jesus went on to say, “Soon the bridegroom will be taken away and then the time of fasting has come until He returns.”
The Pharisees were very rigid. Like old wine skins. Putting new wine in an old, stretched wineskin will burst it. They were not about to accept faith in Jesus’ new ways that could not be contained within the Law. They were closed to Jesus’ new ways. As the old saying goes, “We have never done it that way.”
Fasting is an outward sign of humility, regretful of our sins and an inner discipline that cleanses our mind, body and soul.
As we go forth in this Lenten season let us remember, fasting is a spiritual time of repentance, spending time in prayer, reading His word and loving others.
What a feast we will celebrate Easter morning!
Christ has risen!
-- Jean Hopkins
Wellsville UMC 2014 Devotions
Prayer for Reflection
Dear God, may our Lenten preparation be not to impress others, but to prepare our souls for Your “new wine.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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