Summary: Jesus on Right Fasting seeks to encourage disciples to practice intentional fasting by showing its purpose and benefits.
JESUS ON RIGHT FASTING
Kingdom Life Series #20
“And now about fasting. When you fast, declining your food for a spiritual purpose, don’t do it publicly, as the hypocrites do, who try to look wan and dishevelled so people will feel sorry for them. Truly that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, put on a festive clothing, so that no one will suspect you are hungry, except your Father who knows every secret. And he will reward you.”
Sermon Objective: Encourage Disciples of Christ to practice intentional fasting by sharing its purpose and reward.
Let me start this message by expressing what I believe Jesus is saying to us as a body: “I want you to practice intentional fasting. You will be greatly rewarded.”
Expected by Jesus, but Neglected by the Church
Jesus states that he expects every kingdom person to practice fasting. Earlier we learned that every disciple of Christ should be compassionate by helping the poor. We also discovered that Kingdom People pray. Now Jesus says, Kingdom people also fast.
See also Matthew 9:14-17
The church has generally forgotten about fasting. Stott says we treat fasting as if it is not part of the Word of God. We encourage people to pray regularly, to give sacrificially, but never to fast regularly. One reason I see is our failure to see that Jesus said, “He expects kingdom people” to fast as a lifestyle – as a part of their lives. Another reason could be the result of a slightly off-balance view of “grace-living,” which gives no value to works. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works – I don’t need to fast. Fasting, helping the weak and poor, praying are not works for salvation. They are things we do because we are saved. These are things Jesus said, we’d do because there’s a reward in doing them. For others, it is just sheer ignorance of the Word of God. We interpret fasting as a non-command; do when, and if able. So we have decided to postpone it, and decided it was too inconvenient to do it. It is just a prop in life, I don’t really need it. We don’t know how to fast. I have my reasons for not fasting. I cannot fast. Some of you who come from Catholic background have this idea of monks and religious people who left society and lived alone in caves on vow of poverty and adhered to a strict bread and crackers only diet.
Right fasting is meant to give up something – food, media, relationships, others – for the sake of something better.
So why do we fast? Let me share three reasons to fast.
1. We give up food to FEAST on God. We fast from our physical desires in order to satisfy our cravings for God.
Fasting provides disciples opportunities to truly seek God.
“A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’m thirsty for God alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it – arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
Psalm 42:1-2 (The Message)
Fast to “drink God”.
Jesus also alluded to a more intensified pursuit for God.
“Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread, and later died. Whoever eats this bread will live always.”
John 6:53-59, The Mes).
Fasting enables the believer to feast on God. You “eat the Lord” – CRAVING, desiring him, wanting him, receiving him, enjoying him. God is the most desirable being in the whole universe. He is good, merciful, compassionate, forgiving, saving, restoring, healing, providing, strengthening, rebuilding, renewing, reversing our fortune from horrible to the best, fun, creative, wonderful, incredibly amazing, awesome, great to be with, life, joy, peace. Every time your stomach growls, you are reminded how hungry you are for God. Every time food-thoughts attack your mind (I see a vision of pansit); you are reminded of God-thoughts. I am hungry, but I am hungrier for you. I love the taste of food; but your love taste better. I prefer you Lord over anything – more than “litson”; more than “inihaw na bangus”; more than “sushi”, ‘sashimi’ – coffee, tea, TV, media, people, my voice, and other’s voices.