Today we are looking at Mark 2: 18-28, two sections that have a very similar theme, a theme we are going to see emerge in the coming days’ readings. They are entitled “The Question about Fasting” and “Pronouncement about the Sabbath.”
The Question about Fasting
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 21 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Pronouncement about the Sabbath
23 One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
We see two questions here that deal with the law. One with fasting, one with the Sabbath. Both of these things are spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are very important. They help us grow. They help us become more faithful. They are commands of Jesus Christ. He tells to fast, and He tells us that we are supposed to keep the moral law of the Old Testament.
So, yes, these things are important. But these things do not take the place of loving and following Jesus. When Jesus called Levi yesterday, and Peter, Andrew, James, and John, He didn’t call them to fast or pray, but to follow Him. Now stay with me here. Here’s the thing. If we love and follow Jesus, we will fast. We will pray. We will the disciplines. Not because we have to. But because in doing these things, we are being drawn closer to God.
Religion is not bad. I know it’s cool to do that, to put down religion. Religion is not bad. It’s a good thing. I’m religious about things I love. Like, for instance, Jesus Christ. Religion doesn’t save. Jesus saves. But in following Jesus, we follow Him religiously.
So, in this passage, He doesn’t say don’t fast. He says now is not the time to fast. He doesn’t say don’t keep the Sabbath; He says that the Sabbath was made for man. Fasting and keeping the Sabbath are very important. But they don’t save you. Jesus saves.
Here’s the thing, though. They are for our benefit. Our good. Our faith. Our life.
But we do them not do make God love us. We do it because God loves us. Hear that again. We don’t keep these disciplines to make God love us. We keep them because He loves us, and we love Him and we want to know Him better.
With religion, we never need to put the cart before the horse. I love Jesus. And I love religion. And I am thankful for both. But I want to keep them in the proper order.
Today, may you be faithful. May you be religious. And may your religious lifestyle help you to love Jesus and love your neighbor more and more and more.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 3:1-6.
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