33 Then they said to him, “John’s disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.” 34 Jesus said to them, “You can’t make the wedding guests fast while the groom is with them, can you? 35 But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them—then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. Otherwise, not only will he tear the new, but also the piece from the new garment will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will spill, and the skins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine is put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.’”
My children’s appetites never consistently line up with mealtimes. Sometimes, it can be like pulling teeth to get them to eat their dinner or supper. Ironically, they are ALWAYS up for a snack. As a family, we are not lost on the benefits of healthy snacking, but we do preach that snacks should be limited because prepared meals provide opportunities for the best nutrition. There are times to eat, and times to fast. The better we prepare for, recognize and seize the best opportunities to eat, the better nutrition we receive.
Within this passage of Luke 5, Christ is asked why His disciples do not fast in a similar manner to that of John’s disciples or the Pharisees. Christ’s response to the question, while much more wise and powerful than mine, is essentially similar: there is a time to feast, and there is a time to fast.
Christ further clarifies Himself through a series of parables and scenarios with a common theme: the importance of recognizing both the meaning and timing of feasting vs. fasting. We must be present in our faith so that we recognize the opportunities to feast when they come. Fasting has its very important place and function, but Christ’s message is that it is illogical to fast out of general spiritual practice in the midst of a great opportunity for spiritual nutrition. And in more general terms, we cannot become so immersed in spiritual routine that we miss opportunities for spiritual growth, service, discipleship or evangelism.
There are times to eat, and times to fast (or to perform other spiritual practices). We must stay present in our faith to the degree that we both recognize and capitalize on the opportunities to feast and to grow our discipleship as they come our way.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Which season are you in right now—feasting or fasting?
- What is Christ teaching you in this moment? Share it with someone you trust.
Pray for Helena and Phoebe, third culture kids growing up in Europe. Third Culture Kids (formerly known as MK’s) have both unique opportunities and unique challenges. Pray for Helena and Phoebe to see the goodness of the Lord in all their circumstances and root their lives in the truth of the gospel.