14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
I’m surprised Jesus didn’t answer them about fasting by quoting Zechariah:
4 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: 5 “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ’When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? 6 And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?
– Zechariah 7:4–6
But then I read a little further in Zechariah and find that God said their hearts were as hard as diamonds, so they didn’t listen.
So much of the religious world around Jesus was all about how miserable people could be under God’s Law. They’d carry on when they fasted. They’d carry on about how much money they donated. They’d carry on about how awful all of the sinners were all around them while they were trying so hard to be holy.
Those darned gentiles. (Keeping it rated G here for the kids at home.)
Jesus is telling it to them straight. In the context of this teaching, the old ways of your woe-is-me-I’m-so-holy religion are done! Tax collectors like Matthew can become disciples. We’re going to start holding hands with unclean people covered with disease and watch them get healed (and made clean outside of the Temple) right before our eyes!
You can’t continue to live under the Law of sin and death and follow Jesus. You will ruin yourself and you’ll ruin the witness and truth of Jesus. You can’t believe that God only loves people that live by their own righteous deeds and slap a Jesus patch on it.
He said it Himself: He came for the sinners.
That is why it’s good news. Let the saints fast for their own self-righteousness. Jesus is in unexpected places being called a glutton and a drunk. He is the happy bridegroom celebrating the union with His bride. This is why living by His righteousness is our response, not our work of earning an invitation.
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