Summary: if people prayed as much as they say they do, we would see God do some amazing things!
Food, Prayer,and Wineskins
The ministry of Jesus seems at times complex and confusing when you think of what He did and how He did it.
Remember a couple weeks ago, Jesus left this earth by way of ascension and told the disciples that He must go so the comforter could come.
In their own words, they said that was amazing and perplexing.
Jesus records His ministry in the gospels, this morning we are looking at Matthew 9.
We see Jesus calm a sea. (He tells us that we had little faith.)
He heals people from diseases, heals people from demon possession. (He tells us that our sins are forgiven.)
All the while that He is doing this, He is calling people to follow Him and do the same things.
Jesus shows up and there in town is a tax collector named Matthew, Jesus asks Him to “follow me.”
Matthew leaves his booth and follows him. He leaves everything behind and follows him.
The Pharisees saw this, not very much friends with Jesus, and they ask Jesus disciples “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus overhears the conversation and answers for them.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means. I desire mercy, not sacrifice, For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Not that the Pharisees are healthy, but that people must recognize themselves as sinners before they can be spiritually healed.
Isn’t that like today? You’ll never be able to talk to someone about coming to Christ as Lord and Savior until they realize that they need a savior.
A good salesmen will get you to realize that you cannot live without whatever he/she is selling. Until then, they will have a hard time convincing you to spend your money.
The Pharisee’s, who were not healthy in the eyes of Jesus, approached Jesus disciples about eating with sinners and Jesus tells them that until they know they are sick, He can’t help them.
Then right after in a chain reaction of conversation John’s disciples come and ask Jesus disciples “How is it that we and the Pharisee’s fast, but your disciples do not fast.”
Wow, the Pharisee’s and Johns disciples in agreement about fasting and praying and they are wondering why Jesus own disciples are not fasting and praying.
The text this morning gives us the answer
Matthew chapter 9:14-9:17
Jesus answers the question of fasting by comparing it to a bridegroom.
“How can the guest of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, then they will fast.”
Background- a Jewish wedding was a joyous time and the celebration often lasted a week. it would be unthinkable to fast during the festivity because fasting was associated with sorrow.
Jesus the bridegroom would be taken from them by death, and then it would be appropriate to fast and pray.
John’s disciples were fasting and praying because John was taken from them and was in prison awaiting his fate.
The Pharisee’s prayed and fasted a couple times a week as a ritual and Jesus is indicating that prayer and fasting was to be done a new way and for a new reason.
Let’s take a look at fasting and praying so that when we look at the comparison of new wines in new wine skins we will understand what Jesus is trying to say to us.
Definition of fasting and praying
It is defined as a voluntary going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. (Repeat)
Prayer and fasting go hand in hand but don’t always have to be the case.
You can pray without fasting, and you can fast without praying.
God gets glory when you do both together for a dedicated purpose.
It is not to manipulate God, show off to others how spiritual you are, it allows you to focus on God, and hear what God has to say about it.
The OT talks about fasting once a year on the Day of Attonement.
The Bible nowhere demands that you fast, but it is recommended to fast and pray as we see many fasted and prayed- Moses, King David, Jonathan.
We see in the NT that Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before He went into the wilderness against Satan.
We do know some things about fasting
Jesus tells us to not look like sour pusses, not look like we lost our best friends, not let everyone know that you are fasting by putting oil on your head and leaving their there for all to see.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen, and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”