Summary: Why are people still turning up to Jesus as John's disciples and wanting TO KEEP ON PREPARING THE WAY. Jesus has come. The Bridegroom has arrived. Get with the plan, people! He's here. All that is left is to celebrate the wedding!
Part 3 - Matthew 9:14-15 - SURPRISE! I'M ALREADY HERE!
My youngest grandson had his first birthday recently. My daughter wanted to make it special for him and she invited all her friends with young children to come. SHE SPENT WEEKS PLANNING THIS PARTY. We spent a good week just setting it up. We wanted it to be a PIRATE PARTY. The girls would come as fairies (I don't know how that relates to pirates,... probably through the Peter Pan story. He also featured. We kind of mixed things up a little).
I painted a pirate boat on a large cardboard box, used the clothesline as a mast and put a children's slide at the back of the boat. My daughter made a cake in the shape of a pirate boat. We had a plank at the front door, a treasure map, a treasure chest, eye patches, plastic blowup swords (yes blowup swords! They are amazing). All the kids dressed up as pirates. The house was decked out with skull and crossbone flags and all kinds of pirate paraphernalia. We had to keep the kids away from the food until the day came.
It took weeks to plan, but when the time came, the kids were allowed to break their fast from junk food and in a couple of hours the guests with their gifts had come and gone and it was all over bar the cleaning up! It was over! We were exhausted! My grandson had celebrated the party. He was officially one year old.
We didn't go on painting flags and making more pirate ships as if it hadn't happened yet. It was done! Finished! Over! NO MORE PREPARATION WAS NEEDED. The food was eaten. The presents were opened. The decorations were no longer relevant.
So why in Matthew 9:14 do DISCIPLES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST turn up to Jesus and ask Him about fasting. What gives? Why are there still disciples of John the Baptist when John made it clear way back in Matthew 3:11 (NLT) that "...Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am-so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." He was referring to Jesus of course.
John the Baptist spent a good deal of his time back in Matthew 3 PREPARING THE WAY for Jesus to come. He baptised people for the repentance of their sins. He preached about Christ coming soon. He told them that he must decrease and Christ must increase.
THEN JESUS CAME. John baptised Him and God made it clear that day that Jesus was the One with whom He was well pleased. John had accomplished what he had come to do. It was all over for him (in more ways than one. He was in prison and about to be beheaded).
I remember being a celebrant for a wedding once where the groom had not turned up on time. The bride on the other hand was early. We were not ready for the Bride to turn up. We had to phone her driver and tell him to keep circling the block.
Why are people still turning up to Jesus as John's disciples and wanting TO KEEP ON PREPARING THE WAY. Jesus has come. The Bridegroom has arrived. Get with the plan, people! He's here. All that is left is to celebrate the wedding! It's like a surprise party where the people preparing are surprised instead. He's here already! You can stop now and celebrate! Eat the food, enjoy the party!
Instead they fast. That takes a bit of commitment, but they are missing out on the feast. They are associating themselves MORE WITH THE PHARISEES THAN JESUS. They say "Why don't Your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?" (Matthew 9:14).
Jesus could have asked them, "Why are you still John's disciples? Why are you more willing to follow the SLAVE THAN THE MASTER? Why are you more interested in FASTING THAN IN BEING BAPTISED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and with fire? Why are you more associated with THE PHARISEES THAN WITH MY DISCIPLES? Why are you more interested in DEPRIVATION THAN IN CELEBRATION? IN AN OUTWARD RITUAL RATHER THAN AN INWARD RELATIONSHIP WITH ME? Why are you more concerned with the PREPARATION THAN MY PRESENCE HERE AND NOW".
He is asking me that too. Why am I caught up at times in exactly the same kind of things?
Why am I at times more interested in following GREAT PREACHERS - servants of Christ (JOHN THE BAPTISTS), rather than Christ Himself? Why am I at times more interested in training in CHRISTIAN PROGRAMMES (FASTING) rather than getting to know Christ more deeply? Why am I more interested in MAKING HIM KNOWN than in KNOWING HIM MORE (Yes, I can get hung up on ministry rather than being His disciple). Why am I more interested in HIS GIFTS at times more than Him as THE GIVER. I can be like Martha and get hung up on the PREPARATION RATHER THAN HIS PRESENCE.