The Gospel of Mark | Fasting | Mark 2.18-20 | 

by | Oct 30, 2023

“Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” 19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.” Mark 2.18-20

From a plain reading of this Scripture, Jesus was connecting the concept of fasting with either “mourning” or “longing.”

Some people, unnamed folks, asked Jesus a question about fasting. They compared what his disciples were doing according to what the disciples of John and the Pharisees were doing. John was in imprison and would soon be put to death. And nothing else is said about the disciples of the Pharisees.

But as far as Jesus was concerned, there was no need for his disciples to fast while he was among them. There will come a time, Jesus said, when the bridge-groom will be taken from them, and on that day the disciples will fast. So then, what is the meaning of fasting? Is it a time of mourning waiting for Jesus’ return? It it a time of longing, seeking God and asking him to come among us? And why were the disciples of the others fasting while John was just in prison and the Pharisees were practicing the law?

The disciples of Jesus would fast once Jesus was taken from them. They would seek his face, turn their eyes upon Jesus, mourn and wait for his return. But while Jesus was with them, they were to celebrate, not fast.

Today is both a day of fasting and celebrating. In fasting we focus our eyes upon Jesus, sacrificing for him by seeking his faithful return. But we also celebrate because Christ is with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to maintain a level of intimacy with the Son though absent from the body, he is with us in Spirit.

Sometimes it’s only during the season of Lent when fasting is emphasized but in truth, shouldn’t we be diligent in our pursuit of God each and every moment? Every season is a season for mourning and celebrating. It’s a time in which we encounter the Spirit now and wait for Christ’s return in the future. Fasting is a practice of seeking, of sacrifice and of celebration.

Are you pursuing Christ in your life? Are you sacrificing time, energy, effort, comfort, food in order to know him better? Are you ordering your days to follow his steps? Are you seeking his face regardless of the circumstance? Let this day be one of preparation, fasting and feasting in His Presence. Let us commit our ways to him and follow him with our very lives.

“O Lord God, I often limit fasting to abstaining from particular foods — but then, my focus because on an obsession of avoidance rather than a focus on you. Help me understand what it means to seek your face. Help me order my days around your power and your presence. Guide me by your Spirit so I might know you better. Come now, Lord God, and fall upon me. I submit and surrender to you and your love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen