Summary: Fasting has been around a long time, but Jesus brought new light to an old practice.
Passage: Matthew 9:14-17
Intro: New things can be really scary.
1. as a man born in 1952, I have seen many new things.
2. I wasn’t around for TV’s invention, but was 2 when it was first broadcast in color.
PP early color TV broadcast
3. was 9 when the Russian Yuri Gagarin first orbited the earth in a spacecraft.
PP Yuri Gagarin
4. was 16 for man’s first landing on the moon
PP Moon landing
5. one year before I was born, the first commercial computer was made available by Univac
6. still in High school when the internet was invented, and 29 when the IBM PC home computer came out.
PP IBM PC 1981
7. and now at age 56 I hold a computer in my hand that makes phone calls, gives me updated real-time traffic maps, connects me to the internet that Al Gore invented in 1991, and let’s me call home from the other side of the world for .05 per minute.
PP I Phone
8. but I have to admit that I have not always been positive about these changes.
9. and when Jesus came bearing a new message, it was not always popular.
10. the example here is the practice of fasting, but the changes in this practice indicate a huge improvement at a foundational level.
11. so let’s dig deeply and discover the foundational change (of which fasting is an example,) that bridges us from OT to NT.
I. The Old Testament Purpose of Fasting
1. when John’s disciples asked this question, they were coming with the classic OT view of baptism.
2. throughout the OT, fasting is clearly and inextricably linked with mourning and repentance.
PP Joel 1:13-14
3. Day of Atonement required fasting on penalty of death.
3. phrase means “humble or afflict yourself,” refers to fasting.
4. in every reference to fasting in OT, always connected with mourning and repentance.
5. and that is how Jesus refers to it in this passage.
6. v15 “how can the “sons of the bridechamber”=his disciples mourn?
7. weddings time of great celebration, and it would require an emergency to stop it.
8. was Jesus referring them and us to this passage?
PP Joel 2:15-16
9. by Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were fasting and mourning twice a week.
10. and this goes on today, check out the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
PP Wailing Wall, 2 pictures
11. this was the type of fasting John’s disciples wanted Jesus and his disciples to do.
12. this continuous mournful, repentant fasting.
-some Christian groups today still practice this continuous mournful repentance.
Il) years ago I was with a group of churches here in Chandler who met to pray. But the focus became repentance as an end, not a means.
13. but Jesus came not to continue the old ways of preparation and anticipation, but as the fulfillment of God’s promises
14. Jesus came to fulfill the OT and build on it, but that new building would give new meaning that could not be adequately expressed in the OT purposes of mourning and repentance and fasting and even sacrifice.
II. The New Testament Purpose for Fasting
1. Jesus does not throw fasting out.
2. v15. “They aren’t fasting now during the days of celebration, but they will fast when I am taken away.”
3. and they did. But the whole attitude is different.
4. when fasting is done in the NT, it is not connected to mourning and repentance.
5. it is used during times of special seeking for the wisdom of God.
PP Acts 14:23
6. the attitude of ongoing repentance associated in the OT with fasting and mourning is completed in the NT by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ
7. and now, instead of the cycle of the departure of God because of sin, then mournful repentance, forgiveness, failure, repentance, forgiveness, failure, we have original repentance, complete forgiveness (justification) and periodic repentance as God transforms us but never leaves us!
8. in the Christian context, repentance always leads somewhere.
9. and refusal to repent is a characteristic of the non-believer, the person who remains in his sin.
10. Jesus has brought incredible spiritual security to us, where fasting and repentance is a means to an end, and not the end itself.
11. and the practice of OT style of mournful fasting and continual repentance in the face of the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ is like using a 1940s computer in 2009! Why would you want to?
III. This New Attitude Requires New Structures
1. so now that He has announced a new paradigm, Jesus talks of new structures.
2. two very common pictures in that day that everyone recognized.
3. clothes needing a patch had better have one that is pre-shrunk.