Year 2 Day 63
Read - Mark 2:18- 22
Message - Alan Burke
Weddings are times of celebration, for the man and women as they join together covenanting themselves in marriage and for all those who join with them. If we receive an invitation in the coming weeks with restrictions lifting, were going to go and join the celebration, none of us are going to go and sit and mope in the corner. Here Jesus uses this idea of marriage and the bridegroom when he was challenged about the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting but his disciples weren’t (18).
These two groups, lumped together here to challenge Jesus were fasting but for very different reasons. John’s disciples were fasting, it was an outward sign of their repentance as well as their mourning for John was languishing in prison (1:14), whereas the Pharisees were different, they were fasting to be seen. They may not have portrayed it that way but Jesus makes the point that that’s why they were fasting in Luke’s gospel (Lk 18:9-14).
Here the issue was that people saw this devotion of the disciples of John who fasted out of repentance, and they saw the disciples of the Pharisees even though it was just to be seen as much as anything else, and they saw Jesus disciples possibly even the same day having a feed with sinners and tax collectors. They thought to themselves something didn’t add up here, after all to them godly religious people fasted and they look to Jesus and his followers and they weren’t fasting. Alarm bells ringing, they were thinking… “oh my, look at what this Jesus’ is doing, and those disciples of his, how can they claim to be religious”
To their challenge, Jesus responds with three parables (19-22), the first of which uses imagery of a wedding party (V19-20). In the first Jesus reveals more of who he was and is, for he is the bridegroom and his coming was a time of celebration. Isaiah helps us to make sense of this for the Lord God almighty was called the husband of his people, and in Ephesians it is explained the bride of Christ is his church (Is 54:4, Eph 5:25-27).
Here Jesus is saying that their God was with them, that he was the one that they had been waiting for, he was the Lord himself, the bridegroom had come, his disciples don’t fast because this is a time of celebration.
In his presence there should be joy, it would be inappropriate to fast, but he does speak of a time that fasting will be right. Fasting will be right and proper when the bridegroom will be take away from them speaking of the cross. But even that was not to be permanent and the resurrection would come and their grief would be transformed once more to joy and celebration. To emphasises the point that it would be foolish for his disciples not to be filled with joy and celebration he gives two further parables (21-22). That of a new pice of cloth on an old garment or new wine in old wine skins.
It may not be familiar to us but everyone there would have known that you just don’t do these things. The cloth patch sewn on an old garment would shrink and tear both the garment and the patch (Job 13:28), and old wineskins are hard putting new wine in them as it fermented would have burst them. What Jesus is saying to them is if they were going to receive him, their Messiah, the bridegroom of his people they would have to knock their expectations and their religion on the head. Their long awaited Messiah, the bridegroom of his church wasn’t going to fit into their religiosity, what they had made it about the things that they did, their traditions, they had the scriptures plus, to them they were sacred but they were things holding them back from faith.
Today fasting does have a place in the life of the Christian (see Acts 9:9, 13:3, 14:23). It reminds believers of their dependence on God and should come from a desire to glorify God. That’s not what I want to leave you with, what I want to leave you with is Jesus, the bridegroom, who gave himself up for his church, that is us his people, so he might sanctify his church, cleansing his church, so that we might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:25-27).
Q70 Which is the seventh commandment?
The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exod. 20:14)