Jesus Questioned About Fasting
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
The Joy Set Before Us!
Here in these short verses, we catch a glimpse of how Jesus viewed his own ministry. Earlier, we talked about the focus of Jesus ministry, how he shuns the crowds because he knows that his ministry is not about popularity, but about the cross. And because we know Jesus is aware of the cross, we assume that the tone of his ministry must have been tragic, serious and sad – after all, it’s hard to have fun with those kinds of images in the back of your mind…
But this passage reveals to us that he saw his ministry quite differently: he saw it as a type of celebration! He compares his time with the disciples as a bridegroom at a wedding, a time of celebration and joy. But it is still obvious the he is fully cognizant of the cross before him, as well as his asencsion, when he mentions that the bridegroom will be taken from them. And yet, despite the looming suffering of the cross, he sees his ministry as a party!
We should remember this as well, that there was great sorrow in Jesus’ ministry for sure, but his work was primarily one of Joy and Victory and Redemption – truly causes for celebration! A wonderful reminder to us that it was JOY that propeled Jesus, a Joy so great that it overcame the imminent fear of the pain and suffering and death of the cross:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
And so Joy should propel us forward as well! Yes, there will be times where we bear the cross, where we must too inevitably ascend the hill of Calvary as all disciples do. But we do so because the promise of Joy is even greater than the specter of ridicule or suffering or want. And that Joy is far greater than anything the world or the enemy could ever throw in our path.
1. What currently motivates you as a Christian and as a minister? Is it more of a spirit of duty, sacrifice and obedience, or a spirit of joy and celebration? Why do you think this is?
2. If your life in Christ has become more of a grind than a party, what do you think would help reform that perception to the correct one?
3. Joy is not just a future “when-Jesus-comes-again” idea, but one that we can enjoy even now! What are the joys of Christian life? What is the joy of YOUR Christian life?
4. Our brothers and sisters both are a source of, and need reminders of, Christian joy – what are some ways in which we can encourage and remind each other to live in the joy of the Lord?