14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
As the world is approaching the end of the Lenten fast, it is a good time to reflect upon why we did it (for those that fasted in some way over the past 35 days). The Pharisees fasted twice a week out of piety. John the Baptist’s disciples were fasting in mourning because he was recently beheaded. But nobody could understand why Jesus and His disciples weren’t fasting. Remember, just before starting His ministry, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert as He was guided by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Since then, however, Jesus nor His disciples fasted…but why?
Throughout the bible there are many reasons people fast: in mourning, in repentance, in seeking the Lord’s will. All reasons for fasting really are summed up in one great reason: to grow closer to God. Fasting draws us nearer to God because it forces us to rely more upon Him and not be distracted by worldly things. The most common thought when we say the word “fast” is people going without food, but there are other kinds of fasts as well. The point Jesus was making, however, is that He was here at that moment and so the disciples had no reason to fast. They were living in communion with God by spending every day with Jesus. Fasting at that time wouldn’t have made sense.
Fasting isn’t something we will have to do when we are reunited with Christ. It is a spiritual discipline we practice now until He returns. The sad thing is that as Christians in today’s world, we don’t do it hardly enough. We think this is an ancient practice and instead of fasting to draw near to God, we “give up soda for Lent”. I’m not trying to downplay some of the things we fast from and I’m quite sure that there are many people who could benefit from giving up soda (for instance), but are we really stretching ourselves and putting ourselves in a vulnerable situation where we need to rely on God more? Does it really grow us closer to God or are we doing it out of religiosity like the Pharisees did?