Thursday, March 22, 2007

Feasting While Fasting, Part 4, Mark 2:21-22

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins--and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.
Mark 2:21-22 ESV
Here is one more note on fasting in our day. As I was thinking about how verses 21 and 22 relate to the earlier verses. I’ve heard a sermon by John Piper in which he claimed that fasting was to be different in our day, but I don’t have his book on fasting, so I don’t know exactly what direction he went with this.

But with that in mind, here’s what I’ve come up with. When you go back to Daniel 9:2ff, we see Daniel fasting with sackcloth and ashes. However, given Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:

16 "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
Matthew 6:16-17 ESV
it appears safe to say, fasting in our day has been totally transformed. We are not to fast the way Daniel did. Nor are we to fast the way the Pharisees and John the Baptist did. We don’t put on sackcloth and cover ourselves with ashes anymore. Instead, we anoint our heads with oil; we wash our faces and shine!

But why, what has happened that our fasting is so different than back then? We have the new wine, the Holy Spirit, poured out in our bodies. I think what Jesus was saying in Mark 2:21-22 was that you can not fast in that old way anymore. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, he purchased our freedom from sin and has given us the down payment of his return in giving us his Holy Spirit to dwell with us now.

In a very real sense, our husband is with us. He has not left us the way the men in the Old Testament were left. And he has promised to “be with you even unto the end of the world.”

Therefore, we feast on the presence of the Lord, even while we plead with him to come again through fasting. It is impossible to fast in the same way as our brothers of old fasted. We rejoice always!

Above: I know I've shown a picture of Thanksgiving at Grandma's before, but here is the pre-feasting table. By the way, Grandma turns 90 tomorrow! Happy Birthday Grandma.

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