CHANGE is wonderfully REFRESHING to those who are prepared, mentally and physically; but CHANGE is REPREHENSIBLE to those who are bound in the past.
A season of JOY prepares for the CHANGE.
John’s disciples came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?
“The days will come, when the BrideGroom is taken away from the, and then they will fast.”
“And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the parch tears away from the farment, and a worse tear is made.”
“Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
(Matt. 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39)
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were puzzled concerning why Jesus’ disciples did not fast as they did. Their tradition for spiritual leadership called for a life of strict physical self-denial or restraint—asceticism so they could gain spiritual benefits. Jesus’ disciples were so different from their traditions that people wondered what kind of spiritually disciplined leaders they were learning to be. It is perfectly fine to have questions from a pure heart (James 1:5). They had Jesus present to answer the questions—all of them. They should have been glad and rejoiced to have Him there to answer the most profound questions their minds could imagine, and to actually receive the truth as the answer.
Jesus mentioned fasting in the same context as mourning when answering. Jesus said it was not appropriate for His disciples to mourn, or fast, to practice spiritual asceticism while with Him. Later we read that they could not even pray one hour with Jesus while He was about to be crucified for our sins (Matt 26:40-43). They had been somewhat spiritually pampered. However, with “God With Us” in the flesh (Hebrews 1:8), Jesus Christ present on earth, it was time for rejoicing and gladness. The time would come later for fasting, Jesus told them, when He was taken away from them. We fast for spiritual awareness, for answers, for truth—to do away with physical and worldly distractions that mask the truth. Here, The Truth was with them and the occasion for continual joy and celebration.
If you have ever been asked the question, “If you could have an audience with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you ask him or her?” can you remember your reply? For those who would choose to speak to Jesus because He is the express image of God, He is the Father revealed in human form, He is God Incarnate, He is The Truth and the Light, imagine how you would feel. I imagine I would rejoice and be extremely glad. I would bake a cake, prepare a lovely meal for Him just like those whose homes Jesus visited in the Gospels. Somehow I know within myself that I would not be fasting when He was with me in the physical realm. It would be a time for feasting and celebrating. The disciples knew or were in the process of learning Who Jesus actually was and is. Jesus referred to HimSelf as “The Bridegroom” in His parable. He was ushering in a new time of joy. Jesus was sensitive to God’s timing. There is a time for fasting, a time to mourn, and a time for war and for peace; but then was the time for joy (Eccl 3:1). Years of silence were over and God was with them in the form of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:23). The disciples of John knew by John’s teachings that the Messiah was near to come, that John was sent to announce His coming; but the Pharisees looked for a conquering military Messiah to lead them to statehood in the world. The Pharisees looked for a Moses, a Joshua, or David to lead them to military victory and their own land as their past leaders had done. Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world—they did not understand (John 18:36).
Jesus referred to HimSelf as The Bridegroom. It was time to rejoice to have been invited to Heaven. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” was the announcement of a change in season. This is one of the most difficult principles for people to understand, even Kingdom people. There is a time for the various talents and gifts God has given us to rise and to ebb. There is a time for people in our lives to come and go. There is a time for various assignments to begin and to end. Many people naturally dislike change; especially when we do not believe we have fully succeeded in the current or a former challenge in life during its season. However, the season will not wait for us to acknowledge it. The season will move according to God’s set schedule, regardless, whether we meet or miss our appointments.
Very often I have seen God set up time in His people’s lives for relaxation and rest; and we are too tightly wound or full of guilt from a false sense that we must adhere to social demands for asceticism; or we are too concerned about judgment from others and cannot enjoy our season of joy. Next in life comes a phenomenally emotional and physically demanding season, where the joyful rest God granted would have prepared us. Let God be GOD. The disciples became apostles and were responsible to lead many people, answer many questions, make many decisions, endure much persecution, and to form the basis for the New Testament Church. No wonder Jesus gave them such a wonderful season of celebration.
How may we, surely and without a doubt, know our PERSONAL season and the seasons of the area and the world we are in now—in New Testament modern times—in 2011? How may we have personal communion and fellowship, and receive joy inexpressible, full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)? How may we receive personal answers, including vetoes and stamps of approval in 2011? FAST and PRAY.