Jesus’ perspective of fasting was so unique that in all 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) we only see Him address fasting 1 more time. In Matthew 9:14-17:
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
In this passage Jesus more clearly defines the redirection of a fast. Comparing the old purpose of mourning with the image of an old garment, or old wineskin. But to you and I it would seem random to bring up cloths or containers for wine at a moment like this. What would those two things have to do with fasting? One thing we should always take in to account when reading the scripture is the speaker’s intended audience. Who was Jesus talking to? We find out in verse 14 that Jesus is speaking to the disciples of John the Baptist. When this same story is told from Luke’s perspective, in Luke 5, we find that the Pharisees were present as well. This group would immediately understand what Jesus meant by bringing up these two images. A cloth, in Jewish culture, would reference someone’s role in society. It was their covering, their covenant. A wineskin refers to reward. The wine — coming from grapes — was used, traditionally, for celebrating the fruit of labors, or for keeping feasts, which were celebrations.
So when Jesus described why His disciples did not use fasting or prayer for the same purposes that the Pharisees or the disciples of John did, He intentionally compared those two practices with concepts He knew this group would immediately grasp.
The cloth, or covering, of the Old Covenant was established on the people’s awareness of their sin. (1Corinthians 15:56) The wine, or reward, of the Old Covenant (old wineskin) was based on how well they could keep the commandments in the law of Moses. But for us, in this covenant ratified by the shedding of the Blood of Jesus, our covering is His righteousness. Our reward is His Spirit. “…that we might receive the promise of The Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14) "And because of him, when you who are not Jews heard the revelation of truth, you believed in the wonderful news of salvation. Now we have been stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. He is given to us like an engagement ring is given to a bride, as the first instalment of what’s coming! He is our hope-promise of a future inheritance which seals us until we have all of redemption’s promises and experience complete freedom—all for the supreme glory and honor of God!” (Ephesians 1:13-14 — The Passion Translation)
Personal Prayer Point:
Ask God to reveal to you your personal, particular role in this final hour of time, before His return. Ask Him for the leading of The Spirit so as not to miss out on a single facet of what He has called you to do. Ask for the perfect clarity of His will for your life.
Scripture to Stand On:
(Psalm 40:7-8 — Hebrews 3:7-10)
Corporate Prayer Point:
Together, let’s ask God this year to add a zero to everything He accomplished in our church in 2018. Add a zero to our attendance number. Add a zero to the number of salvations. Add a zero to church income. Add a zero to our corporate giving as a church, to other ministries.
Scripture to Stand On:
(Deuteronomy 28:8,12 — John 15:7 — Zechariah 10:1)