Scripture Reading: Luke 5:17-end
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Sad countenance—dreary, sad, sullen, sour. Disfigure—put a miserable mask on, often tied in with ashes on head and slovenly appearance. Anoint/wash—appear as normal.
--what does fasting mean? To abstain from food or drink for religious purposes.
--most have been taught that fasting is legalism.
--Fasting is usually linked up with a sorrowful emotion, most of us have been taught not to have emotions in our faith except happy, happy, so fasting seems completely foreign.
--Lent and ashes all done externally and publically cancels out whole effect of fasting.
--Do you have to fast? Fasting seems to be a natural response to a spiritual state. Being forced to do it doesn’t seem like the deal.
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Children—companions of the bridegroom. Mourn—the emotion linked with fasting. When Christ is with them it’s time for rejoicing.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Fast twice—going above and beyond prescribed religious duty—one day a year on Day of Atonement, which was for mourning over sin. All his religious activity is grounds for boasting. Going thru religious motions does not impress God. If all it does is make you arrogant, then knock it off.
Psalm 69:7-11—Mourning and humility
Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.11 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.
Shame—disgrace, insult, dishonor. Wept—“I wept away my soul” Sackcloth—uncomfortable clothes of mourning and humility.
Matthew 17:21—Asking for God’s assistance/dependence
Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting
Prayer and fasting—demonstrations of the need for divine help, not a flippant “I got this” attitude.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Acts 14:23—Paul and Barnabas
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Ordained—appointed. How often we view the power of conferring spiritual guidance or benefit on people as a thing we can do. Ordaining people is not a human power—simony.
Fasting is linked primarily with humble dependence, sincere concern, and sorrow