Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” Luke 5:34-35 (NIV)
The Pharisees and religious leaders are questioning Jesus. They want to know why His followers are attending banquets and celebrating by eating and drinking. Many people devote time to fasting and restraining from pleasures to attain a higher level of spirituality. Yet here are those who are with Jesus enjoying the parties with all the other guests. Should they be restraining themselves too?
What is fasting? Is it refraining from otherwise normal human activity in the attempt to focus ourselves more on God? When do people do this? Is it when they realize the distance that separates them from the One we worship? Would it be a form of placing ourselves in a state where we realize our need for the Lord? Does it work to channel our needs to the supplier of those needs? Is this something we each need constantly? Could fasting be a very valuable tool in restoring lost ground with our Father? Does it help us turn from our needs and simply seek to please Him and draw close to Him?
Is it possible that the Pharisees were not too far off on their theology? Would they have been completely right in encouraging a little more fasting on the part of Jesus´ followers? Could the only thing they failed to note, be the fact that Jesus was there with them? If we fast to bring our hearts close to our Lord, should we continue fasting while we are in His company? If we use hunger to move us to want Him more, should we starve while sitting down with Him? Must we continue to cry out our disappointment over distance between us when we find ourselves within His embrace? Or does there come a moment when we should revel in His love? Are there moments when we do find ourselves within the Presence of the Lord? Would these moments be ones of joy and celebration?
Jesus tells the confused questioners that while the Bridegroom is with His friends, we cannot ask them to stop celebrating. He says that there will be times where distance separates. In these times there will certainly be fasting. For those truly concerned where their hearts lie, there will be many moments of painful awareness of our hunger. In those times anything that can be done on our part to restore us again to the Lord will be eagerly embraced. When our souls realize that the Bridegroom is not near, how will we be able to continue to eat, drink and celebrate?
So rather than making this an issue of what we should do or not do. Could we approach fasting as to what its function is? Could we understand that it in itself is not a commendable or necessary obligation? Should we ever push it on another person or judge someone for doing it? Rather can we hold it up as a very intimate state between the individual seeker and their God? Could we see it as a tool that has its design, purpose and time? Should it be reserved for genuine souls who are adjusting themselves to their Maker? Could it be practiced in whatever form necessary to actually achieve the restoration of lost closeness when called for? Could it be a gift and a very real gesture of openness to the One whom we would be with?
Dear Jesus, please make us painfully aware of those times when we lack closeness to You. Show us when and how to place ourselves in a state where our need works real restoration to You. Teach us to fast when we are too far from You. But when You are near, let our spirits soar! When our Bridegroom is with us let us throw off our sorrow and tears. May we reach a point where celebrating Your Presence is what is called for. Let it be genuine. Show us which state is needed in every moment. And keep us always hungery for You!