Fasting According to Jesus

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  (Matthew 6:16-18)

“Now, the symbolic purpose of fasting in Second Temple Judaism was to express mourning. Religiously, if extended its significance to become a demonstrative way of adding force to prayer, to invoke the pitiful mercy of the Most High who would look upon the self-humbling lamentation of his servants in need. This was exactly why stress was placed in ancient Israel on the need for externally observable signs of distress when fasting. In simple terms, fasting was meant to force God’s hand, as it were, and was a fitting prelude if one expected a reconciliation with God…

In Jesus’ understanding of the covenant, fasting served the purpose of lamenting the absence of God and pleading for his return to his people in living experience. If God has returned (the dynamic force of the Kingdom preaching of Jesus), then fasting no longer has a place, and the wedding feast must surely be the more appropriate spiritual exercise to celebrate that belief.”om, pp. 284-285)

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