The question of fasting comes up in Christian circles today, and why not. Even the disciples of John questioned Jesus on this matter. Here is the scripture: “Then John’s disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests be sad while the groom is with them? The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one patches an old garment with unshrunk cloth, because the patch pulls away from the garment and makes the tear worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. But they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:14-17 So the question remains: Are we still supposed to fast? The answer is yes, but the reason has changed. When Jesus walked the earth, those who followed John, because they didn’t understand who Jesus is, lived in Old Testament times and laws. The disciples, who walked with Jesus were learning to live under a new dispensation of grace. So the answer is more complicated than to just say we fast because fasting was present in the Old Testament. In the OT, fasting was for a purpose, and those purposes were things such as: Humbling ourselves before God, to draw nearer to Him; To dedicate yourself to prayer to God for grief or any other reason that brings you to the point of needing to be near God; To express repentance before God; To seek deliverance; and probably many other reasons for wanting to petition God for something. When Jesus walked with the disciples, He was and is, “God with us.” When Jesus answered John’s disciples, He used the example of the new cloth, old cloth, and new and old wineskins. Either of those is putting something new on something that was old, and Jesus was the New way of thinking toward God. So the reason for fasting should be through Him. He had come into the world to save the world, and petitioning God by fasting while Jesus walked the earth, would be like not recognizing Jesus as God. Something new: Who Jesus is, putting it on something old: Old testament way of living according to the law. In the Scripture above, Jesus said that when the bridegroom is taken away, (The cross and death of Jesus) then there would be reason to fast because He was no longer physically present in their midst. So then the answer is motivation today. There are those who realize that Jesus is still with us, and therefore no longer is the need to fast, and those who need to fast because He ascended and sits on the right hand of God. The overall answer comes down to motivation. Why do you fast? If it’s because it was done in the Old Testament, then you might be fasting for the wrong reasons. But if you are fasting because of grief, and want to draw closer to Jesus, for answers and comfort, then fasting would be appropriate. Do you fast? Do you fast for health, or for getting yourself in a place of spiritual worship through fasting? Then by all means, make it mean something. The rest of what Jesus would say is that we are not to let others know we are fasting so they can have pity on us, but fast to make it personal, just between you and Jesus. That will honor God the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit who lives in you. Put your “new wine” of fasting into the grace that now defines us. Then you will be fasting for the right reasons. Ps. Andy

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