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Mark - Who is Christ?
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to MARK
PART 3 - The Conflict Between Jesus and the Jewish Leaders (Mark 2:1 - 3:6)

3. A Conversation About Fasting (Mark 2:18-22)

MARK 2:18-22
18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, and they came and asked him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “Can the groomsmen fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they can’t fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then will they fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, or else the patch shrinks and the new tears away from the old, and a worse hole is made. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine pours out, and the skins will be destroyed; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins.”

A religious man regards fasting as a means of finding favor in the eyes of God that through his effort, the Holy One may respond to him. In fact, it is not easy to fast for a whole day, as the stomach contracts because of hunger, and the lips become dry because of thirst.

Christ did not teach his disciples to fast rigidly, but to be with him forever, and altogether happy in his presence. His followers had already tried with John the Baptist to overcome their sins with fasting and repentance, and they failed. But Jesus helped their worried souls with the abundance of his love.

The Pharisees, a strict religious party, held fast to the letter without the spirit, and decided with firm determination to establish their self-righteousness on works based on the law. They did not recognize that he who fasts is wicked in himself, and that fasting cannot change the nature of a man.

Jesus gave those who believed in him a new nature. He purified them with his blood, and gave them life with the power of his Spirit. Thus, he overcame traditions and rituals, and found freedom from the law with self-control in the power of his Spirit. His followers have no need of drawing God’s attention to them through fasting and prayer, for the Holy One came in his Son willingly to men, as a bridegroom takes his bride who is prepared to meet him. Ever since the coming of Christ to the world, we have been living in the joy of the wedding, for God spiritually is united with believers. Furthermore, faith in Christ signifies a new covenant.

Rejoicing, and not fasting and weeping, is the characteristic of the church. He who follows Christ is justified. God responds to us because of Christ’s intercession, and not because of our incomplete works. He who tries to win paradise through contributions and fasting will definitely fail, for he still lives on the foundation of his own power, trying to please God in vain by keeping the law.

Christ delivered us from the bondage of law into the pleasure of God who dwelt with his Spirit in our hearts freely by grace, and not by way of recompense. Jesus calls us the friends of the bridegroom.

Christ recognized the future of his church, knowing that his followers would not agree with the law. His gospel is likened to the new wine, which is fermented in his power. Old modes of the law and gloomy worship are not in harmony with the gladness of the free. Therefore, the new power needs new ways of meeting and worshiping, out of which are common songs of praise, charities in times of distress and hardships, common prayers in home circles, and love of enemies at all times. The Spirit of Christ and the joy of the Lord establish new molds of the new spirit.

PRAYER: O Christ, we thank you that we are invited to your wedding, you have purified us with your precious blood, and you sanctify us by your powerful Spirit. Help us to yield ourselves up wholly to your pleasure and service, and teach us the faith that we may not walk gloomily, but reflect your beautiful presence with us at all times. Amen.


  1. Why did Jesus’ disciples not fast?


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