Dieting is a national pastime in the United States. Everyone wants to lose weight and get fit. The idea behind dieting is to regain control of the quantity and type of food you ingest to enjoy more physical health. Fasting also limits your intake of food but the focus is on your spiritual rather than physical well-being. When you are hungry, yet do not eat, the spirit is overriding the natural instincts of the flesh. Heightening your spiritual faculties can result in more self-control and better prioritization. You also save time by not cooking or cleaning and that time can be reinvested in prayer, meditation, or other spiritual activities. Your focus shifts to what really matters: Being spiritually fit!
Fasting was required once a year under the law of Moses on The Day of Atonement, but the Pharisees began to impose frequent fastings as a sign of piety (Luke 18.12). Someone noticed that the disciples of Jesus were not fasting as were John’s disciples or those of the Pharisees. Jesus explained that timing accounted for the difference. Weddings are not the time for fasting, and His ministry was like one long wedding party. Funerals are a time for fasting, and when Jesus would be taken away from the earth, it would be a time for mourning.
Jesus followed these comments by sharing a parable about incongruous things. A new patch on an old garment can cause tearing. New wine in old wineskins can cause bursting. In both cases, the problem is the rigidity of the old. The point is that brittle, inflexible mindsets cannot tolerate the transformation brought on by Jesus’ refreshing teaching. Resistance to new ways of doing things and new ways of being cause slow decline and eventual death. Preferring old wine is like preferring old traditions and preferences at the expense of truth and growth. The formal, somber, rigid religion of the Pharisees was different from the joyful, practical blessings of Christianity. Jesus believed religion should be life-bestowing and life-enhancing (John 10.10). When church services constantly make you uptight rather than uplifted, something is wrong. Weddings are about joy (2 Corinthians 11.2). Jesus is about joy (John 15.11). Church is about joy (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18). Choose joy (Philippians 4.4).
Aubrey Johnson, Minister
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