And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
Jesus says the Law is all about Him! Fasting is about Him! A fast is a fast for His presence, as we long for Him; desiring Him, we withdraw from anything that might distract us from Him. The Sabbath is about Him – resting in Him, hoping in Him, leaning on Him. Listen now:
- Refraining from eating, in and of itself, is of no ultimate value. Millions of dieters and adherents of other religions do that all the time.
- Refraining from work on the Sabbath, in and of itself, is of no ultimate value. Millions of lazy people do that all the time.
Those are not characteristics of a true disciple – though a true disciple may well do both.
The Pharisees were mistaken. They exalted the form of Judaism, and forgot the main point.
- The Messiah was with them – they need not fast for Him!
- The reality behind the Sabbath was with them! He is what every Sabbath pictured – the rest of God available in Christ.
True religion is to recognize Him, to respond to Him – that’s what a true disciple does.