Why the Disciples Didn’t Fast, But We Should

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Matthew 9:14-17

We don’t fast much these days. Honestly, I’m not sure I even understand what fasting is for. It’s definitely something we might be missing culturally, I think. But let me give this my best shot.

Fasting, I think, is supposed to help bring you closer to God. The disciples didn’t need to fast to be closer to God because they were spending all their time with Jesus. They could literally not have been closer to God. All their time was being spent learning from Him, growing in faith, and becoming closer to God. At least, hopefully it was.

Then Jesus says, “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Well, Jesus has been taken away from us. Should we be fasting? Why did we stop fasting in the first place? How did we get to the point where people like me don’t even understand the purpose of fasting?

This is especially relevant now, during Lent. Many people are “fasting” in some form or another. I’m not. Partly because I don’t understand, and partly because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to give up. Maybe this Lenten tradition is more important than I previously understood. Maybe there’s more to it than just leftover practices from an older time.

This is definitely something I need to pray over, because it sure looks like Jesus wants us to fast from time to time.

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