13 Feb 2005

What about fasting?

Submitted by theshovel
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Fasting. What is it for?

Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face. Matthew 6:16-17

And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:15

any comments? —Seth

Hi Seth,

When you keep in mind that fasting was very much part of their religion and that it had in part become associated with mourning (for their history was filled with reasons to mourn) then Jesus’ statements make a little more sense as being a commentary on how they had fit fasting into their actual life.

It shouldn’t be hard to imagine, based upon Jesus’ comments, that those supposedly representing God had been using their “obedience” to the law (regarding the fast) to make themselves appear “spiritual” by looking all mournful and gloomy (Oh what a sacrifice those people were making for God! ).

When Jesus told them to wash up so that no one would know except God alone he was exposing their only motivation to do it. Put it all together and it becomes quite obvious that Jesus was not commending their practices but was instead calling attention to their BS.

The fasting that would happen when the bridegroom was taken away was referring to Jesus’ own disciples. This was a sticky issue with the religious folks of the day (Pharisees, scribes, and even the disciples of John, the baptizer) for they questioned Jesus on it more than once. It’s just like children who can’t stand it when their older siblings get more priviledges than they.

Because Jesus, the Messiah, the bridegroom, was with them what rationale was there to mourn and fast as did the others? Jesus said the time would come - it did - and during that period of time they did in fact mourn and fast. When was that? The three days when Jesus was gone, as well as off and on during the period when Jesus came and went before Pentecost when his spirit was sent.


so Jim you’re saying now that the Spirit is here it is absurd to fast for spiritual reasons or mourn spiritually. In fact it’s a disgrace?

Some people look at it as sacrifice, i cant relate to that anymore, but when you fast (i use to fast eat only bread and drink water for a week) you do get sad (mourn) i dont know if it’s cos you’re hungry or some other reason, and when the fast is over, you’re the happiest man on earth, again dont know if it’s cos you are eating or some other reason. i know i sound like a lunatic, just telling you how it felt.


I, too, have fasted, but for health reasons, not for “spiritual” reasons. I don’t remember any sadness during the whole time, though I experienced headaches at the beginning (maybe from caffiene withdrawal ). I actually get very alert during much of it. My current eating pattern is somewhat of a daily mini-fast as I eat dinner somewhere between 4-6 pm and then I don’t eat again - breakFAST - until 10 am, which is 7 hours after getting up. I am at the height of my performance during those hours. After I eat I get sluggish and sleepy for a while. I usually eat only twice a day.

I would not say that it is at all a disgrace to fast in this day, for there may be some disasterous events in a person’s life that bring about a physical and emotional period of mourning. If someone wants to use it as a spiritual formula thinking they can get God’s attention or get more “grace” by fasting they can knock themselves out if they want! Hopefully, they will learn that God is not impressed by such activity.


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