The Seventh Sunday after Trinity
July 18, 2021
Mark 2:18-22 (NIV) "Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?" 19 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. 21 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins."
Fasting means to abstain from food and sometimes even drinking water. Religious people would fast for different reasons such as to concentrate on prayer and meditation or as an expression of grief or self-punishment for some sin committed. Moses wrote of only one fast in the Old Testament, on the Day of Atonement, but Jews added additional fast days and some Pharisees praised themselves for fasting twice a week.
Jesus and his disciples did not fast as did the disciples of John the Baptist. John’s disciples perhaps even fasted because John had been thrown into prison.
Jesus answers this question by comparing his time on earth with that of a groom at a wedding. Guests wouldn’t fast at a wedding but celebrate the wedding. But after the groom is gone, they may fast. Jesus neither forbids nor commands his disciples to fast but simply states “the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
The scriptures frequently speak of Jesus as a bridegroom and his followers, the believers, his Church, as this bride. When he finally takes all believers to heaven, that will be like a never-ending wedding celebration. Scripture assures us that “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
Furnish Your church, O Lord, with faith so that, with robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, we may be dressed as a bride for the heavenly bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Grant to us readiness to sacrifice, zeal for Your cause, and faithfulness to Your Word, that we may never falter in our holy calling. Give repentance to Your people, and clothe us with the garments of faith, hope, and love. All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord. Amen