First Answer

Matthew 9:15 English Standard Version (ESV) 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.

Beyond the general concept of Jesus being the bridegroom here, there is a challenge to the practices being observed by those who worship God in fasting. Since these new disciples need not fast as long as Jesus (the Messiah) is present with them, why do those who worship God fast? What is there understanding of fasting? Jesus is challenging their understanding and their practice.

Many customs, purely secular in their origin, have gradually obtained a religious significance, just as purely religious customs have been dissociated from religion. It is also possible and, in the light of some usages, probable, that different motives operated in the association of fasting, as of some other customs, with religion. Scholars have been too ready to assume that the original significance of fasting was the same in all countries and among all nations. Robertson Smith in his Religion of the Semites advanced and defended theory that fasting was merely a mode of preparation for the tribal meal in which sacrifice originated, and came to be considered at a later stage as part of the sacrificial act. This hypothesis apparently accounts for the otherwise strange fact that both fasting and feasting are religious acts, but it does not give a satisfactory explanation of the constant association of fasting with the “wearing of sackcloth,” the “putting of ashes on the head,” and other similar customs. It is obvious that very different motives operated in the institution of fasting and of feasting religious observances.” Ref. quoted from International Standard bible Encyclopedia

Leviticus 16:29 offers a statute in which Israel was told to afflict themselves before the atonement sacrifice was made. That affliction was defined as humbling oneself and over time has been used by religious leaders to call for a fast, to deny the flesh. Note the difference between the statute and the practice.


Matthew 9:14-17 English Standard Version

A Question About Fasting

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast,[often] 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.”

In this study let us look at the context of the question and all the answers Jesus gave, not just one. The initial question posed by the disciples of John indicate that their religious practices are following the examples of the leaders of the Jewish faith they were raised to respect.

These are the disciples of John who was the forerunner spirit to prepare the way of the Lord. John preachs repentance and announced that this Jesus is the Lamb of God, given to take away the sins of the world. His whole ministry was to pronounce the arrival of their Messiah.

Since the question surrounds religious practices between the established priesthood and those of the men following the Messiah, there is a distinct message here that separates the two practices. The answer to those differences is contained in all these passages and not in just the first comment given. All the examples apply to those distinctions.

His first answer is directed by His identity which is new to all those within hearing. This is the point where Jesus announces that He is the bridegroom for the first time. This refers to Psalm 19 in reference to the bridegroom and the words “The law of the Lord is perfect,[blameless]”.” Read Psalm 19.