<< Previous | Index | Next >>
                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                Jesus Questioned About Fasting (2:18-22)

INTRODUCTION

1. The nature of Jesus' ministry caught the attention of many...
   a. He healed the sick, cast out demons - Mk 1:34
   b. He traveled from city to city, preaching in the synagogues - Mk
      1:39

2. The attention of religious leaders led to close scrutiny...
   a. As when the scribes took issue with His claim to forgive sins - Mk
      2:6-7
   b. As when the scribes and Pharisees took issue with His dining with
      sinners - Mk 2:16

[Not just Jesus, but also His disciples were scrutinized.  When His
disciples were not fasting like other men's disciples, Jesus was asked
why...]

I. THE NARRATIVE

   A. JESUS QUESTIONED REGARDING FASTING...
      1. Why did His disciples not fast? - Mk 2:18
      2. Both disciples of John and those of the Pharisees fasted
         - ibid.
      3. Fasting was commonly practiced at the time
         a. The Law of Moses ordained one fast, on the day of Atonement
            - Lev 23:26-32
         b. But Jews fasted on many other occasions, for different
            reasons, lengths, and degrees of abstinence - cf. "Fasting
            In The Old Testament"
         c. In the first century, many Jews fasted twice weekly - cf. Lk
            18:12; Didache 8:1
      -- Since it was so common, why did the disciples of Jesus not
         fast?

   B. JESUS' RESPONSE REGARDING FASTING...
      1. He first gave the illustration of friends and the bridegroom
         - Mk 2:19-20
         a. Friends with the bridegroom do not fast while he is with
            them, it is time for feasting!
         b. When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast
      2. He then gave the illustrations of new cloth and new wine - Mk
         2:21-22
         a. New cloth is not sown on an old garment, or the tear is made
            worse
         b. New wine is not put in old wineskins, or the old wineskins
            will burst
      3. Jesus' explanation was two-fold:
         a. First, it was inappropriate for His disciples to fast while
            He was with them
         b. Second, ritualistic fasting would be out of sync with His
            "new doctrine" (Mk 1:27)
      -- The trappings of Judaism would be incompatible with the
         religion of Jesus

[So was Jesus saying that fasting would have no place in the New
Covenant?  Here are some observations taken from the text and other
passages related to fasting...]

II. SOME OBSERVATIONS

   A. JESUS INDICATED HIS DISCIPLES WOULD FAST...
      1. With His illustration:  "...they will fast in those days" - Mk
         2:20
      2. When Jesus' ministry on earth was over, some fasting would be
         appropriate
      -- Thus Jesus did not rule out fasting altogether

   B. HE TAUGHT FASTING THAT PLEASES GOD...
      1. In His sermon on the mount - Mt 6:16-18
      2. Done not to impress men, but to please God
      -- Thus Jesus expected His disciples to fast

   C. EARLY CHRISTIANS PRACTICED FASTING...
      1. The church at Antioch, as they ministered to the Lord - Ac 13:
         1-3
      2. The churches of Galatia, when they appointed elders - Ac 14:
         21-23
      3. The apostle Paul, as part of his ministry - 2Co 6:5; 11:27
      4. Husbands and wives, by mutual consent - 1Co 7:5
      -- When joined with prayer, fasting apparently is suitable for
         Christians

   D. WHEN FASTING WOULD BE PROPER TODAY...
      1. Whenever circumstances require God's help
         a. These may be occasions on an individual level
            1) When faced with difficult temptations
            2) When faced with the serious illness of a loved one
         b. These occasions might be on a congregational level
            1) As when appointing elders
            2) As when sending out missionaries
      2. Whenever circumstances call for much prayer
         a. Is not God more likely to answer our  prayers if we are
            persistent? - cf. Lk 18:1-8
         b. Is not God more likely to respond if we fast in the proper
            manner? - cf. Mt 6:17-18
      -- Not as some ceremonious ritual, but when appropriate for the
         occasion

CONCLUSION

1. Richard Foster (Celebration Of Discipline) wrote that in a culture
   where the landscape is dotted...
   a. With shrines to the "Golden Arches" and an assortment of "Pizza
      Temples"
   b. Fasting may seem out of place, out of step with the times

2. Views about fasting usually go to extremes...
   a. "Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and
      reason, and others have utterly disregarded it." - John Wesley
   b. Some consider fasting unnecessary, something to be ignored; others
      think it should be bound as a matter of faith (like baptism)

3. From this brief study we have observed...
   a. There is a place for fasting, but its practice would not be
      ritualistic
   b. For the disciple of Christ, fasting is left primarily to
      individual discretion
   c. When properly understood and practiced, it can be a valuable
      spiritual discipline
   d. A way to humble oneself before God; when joined with prayer, a way
      to solicit God's help - cf. Ezr 8:21-23

We do well to carefully study the subject of fasting (cf. "Fasting - A
Special Study").  It would be a shame to have a spiritual tool at our
disposal and not make use of it as disciples of Christ...
<< Previous | Index | Next >>


Home Page
Have A Bible Question? | Want A Free Bible Study Course? | Looking For A Church Near You?
Want To Talk With Someone By Phone? | Want To Discuss The Bible By Email?
Search The Outlines

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

eXTReMe Tracker