33 One day some people said to Jesus, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking?”
34 Jesus responded, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. 35 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.
37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” (NLT)
The purpose of fasting is to help someone focus their attention on God for a specific amount of time. During this time people may concentrate on extended prayer or reading the Bible or connecting with God in other ways. The hunger pains help keep one’s mind centred on God; they give an awareness that reminds a person to put aside all other concerns and focus on the reason for fasting.
Some people fast at specific times during the year. Some fast weekly. Some fast during a time of struggle or uncertainty when they need to be focused solely on the Lord and hearing His voice. There are many different times a person may decide to fast, but all are for the same reason – to concentrate on God and be fully aware of His presence.
In today’s world, people choose to fast from things other than food. These are usually things that they spend a lot of time on such as social media browsing, TV watching or video game playing. Sometimes people will fast from a specific food that they really love like chocolate or bread. Again, the purpose of these fasts are the same – focus on God, (ex: reading the Bible instead of watching TV).
In this scripture, Jesus is being asked why His disciples don’t fast. Jesus responds with analogies. Do guests fast at a wedding celebration? Of course not. Do you rip new clothing, then patch it with old clothing? No. Do you put new wine in old wineskins? Never.
Jesus also says that one day the groom will be taken from them, and then they will fast. What was His point with the analogies? Charles Swindoll, in his commentary on Luke, explains:
“Jesus’ point was that the disciples didn’t need to fast in order to concentrate on God; they could reach out and touch Him – literally!”
Today, we don’t have the ability to reach out and literally touch Jesus. There are many different ways we can connect with Him and one of them is fasting.
When was the last time you fasted? What did God reveal to you during that time?
The last time I fasted was during lockdown. God used the focused time to remind me of His presence. He reminded me that He is always with me, so I never have to feel lonely.
I encourage you to schedule a fast in the near future. It is amazing how God can and will connect with you during that time.