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Feasting or Fasting?

Our Narrative Lectionary Reading for this upcoming Sunday is from Mark 2:18-22.  Some people confronted Jesus wanting to know why his disciples did not fast like the disciples of John and the Pharisees.  This was not the only time that people were concerned about the undisciplined behavior of his disciples.  In Acts 2 people were concerned the disciples were drunk in the morning.  Jesus' crew may have been a little rowdy.  Today, some would say they knew how to have a good time. 

It is important to know that fasting was not found as a commandment except for very special days.  It was a common practice for mourning, preparing, or making commitments, but it was not commanded.  Jesus certainly didn't oppose it, he started his ministry by fasting for 40 days in the wilderness.  However, he did come to the defense of the disciples, never one to miss an opportunity to correct those trying to place a heavier yoke on others.

His response is AMAZING! It goes something like this: He tells them that there is a time to feast and a time to tighten your belt.  Now is the time for feasting, look, they are having a good time.  You wouldn't toss water on a bonfire among friends, so don't be such a stick in the mud, this celebration is what God's kingdom looks like!

As he continues he goes on to explain that this kingdom work is something new, so the old practices and traditions don't apply.  New wine does not go in old wine skins, they would burst.  He didn't recruit from among the best Torah students like John and the Pharisees.  He was doing something new, and it required a new kind of disciple. 

May each of you be a new wine skin, prepared to receive the work of Christ in the world today!


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