Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 5 Study # 1
July 22, 2007
33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?
34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
1901 ASV Translation:
33 And they said unto him, The disciples of John fast often, and make supplications; likewise also the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink.
34 And Jesus said unto them, Can ye make the sons of the bride-chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
35 But the days will come; and when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then will they fast in those days.
- I. The Place of This Account in the Context.
- A. At the beginning of five conflict scenarios, we see Jesus "withdrawing to pray" and at the end of the five we see Jesus "out [on] the mountain praying all night".
- 1. This immediately followed the healing of a man filled with leprosy that established Jesus' claim to be a "greater than Moses". This record also immediately followed the call of the first three disciples who "left all and followed Him."
- 2. This immediately precedes Jesus' call of the Twelve.
- B. Luke records the five "conflict" scenarios wherein the Pharisees seek to undercut Jesus' teaching.
- 1. 5:17-26 -- the charge is "blasphemy". In the interplay, Jesus rewards "faith" and declares the actual nature of His superiority to Moses: the Son of Man can forgive sins. Then He "heals" a man to force the issue of His claim.
- 2. 5:27-32 -- the "question" is "Why do ye eat with the publicans and sinners?". This issue is raised because Jesus has "called" a tax collector to "follow" and the man "leaves all and follows".
- 3. 5:33-39 -- the accusation is "...Your disciples eat and drink".
- 4. 6:1-5 -- The "question" is "Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?".
- 5. 6:6-11 -- Jesus asks "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good, or to do harm? to save a life, or to destroy it?".
- C. This account is the third of the five.
- 1. The first introduces Jesus' claim that "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" in the face of a charge of "blasphemy".
- 2. The second and third use "eating and drinking" issues to focus our attention. The issue here is one: You are not sufficiently internally "committed" to godliness to qualify for the position You claim.
- 3. The fourth and fifth use "Sabbath" issues to focus our attention.
- a. In the fourth, we find a "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" statement.
- b. In the fifth, Jesus asks the question and then deliberately exercises His power to heal to force the issue. This is similar to the first where Jesus responds to a question with a question and then heals to force the issue.
- c. The issue here is also one: You are not sufficiently externally "committed" to God to qualify for the position You claim. The "Sabbath" was originally established as a "loyalty to God" issue.
- II. From "Eating and Drinking With Sinners" to "Eating and Drinking".
- A. The "morality police" could not "pin" Jesus for "eating and drinking with sinners", so they went after Him for simply eating and drinking. What's next, finding fault with Him for getting up in the morning?
- B. The overtones of spiritual pride can be heard in this "Why are your disciples not more restrained in their physical appetites?" question.
- III. The Problem of Antagonism Toward Jesus.
- A. In the "eating and drinking with sinners" issue, the Pharisees were misrepresenting the legitimate application of the Word of God; in this "eating and drinking" issue, they are misrepresenting the legitimate setting of the Word of God.
- 1. Bad companions are to be avoided, according to the Word of God, when those bad companions are setting themselves forth as "people of God", not when they are not the "people of God" (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).
- 2. Generally carefree behavior does not "suit" times of deep distress, but neither do the practices of deep distress "suit" times of joy and ease. It is hypocritical to act like the world is coming to an end when life is going relatively well.
- B. The practice of the actions of distress when there is none assumes the blindness of God.
- 1. The practice of fasting and making prayers when there is no legitimate reason for it is simply the practice of self-exaltation at God's expense. This is mindless religion being used for self-promotion. God is not taken in by this.
- a. What is fasting for? Luke 8:12 reveals that it has been turned into a basis for proud self-exaltation by the "religious", though it's real purpose is so far from that as to make it amazing that men can be so blind (it is supposed to be about 'humbling' oneself and it has been turned into an "I am superior to you" tactic).
- b. What is "making prayers" about? The term used indicates a heightened sense of urgency, or at least desire. Every context of this particular word has this sense of "intense interest".
- 2. God intends for His people to rejoice when it is time to rejoice and to weep when it is time to weep. Playing like everything is terrible when many things are good is an affront to the Good God. Likewise, eating yourself sick and drinking yourself into a stupor to mute the pain of deep distress is likewise a foolish pursuit.
- IV. The Disciples of John.
- A. When the prophet Daniel came to the end of the prophesied seventy years of captivity, he fasted with prayer and confession of significant sins because the prophecy was tied to the reality that restoration follows honest repentance. The nation needed a voice of true repentance as it was coming into the time of restoration.
- B. When John came on the scene, the nation was a brood of vipers but it was time for the appearance of the long-awaited Messiah. John's commission was to prepare the people for the coming of the Christ. Fasting and prayer in the setting of a life among vipers who were going to be given an opportunity for regeneration was eminently suitable. It fit the prior example of Daniel whose prophecies John understood to indicate the soon arrival of Messiah. But, once the Messiah was on the scene with the offer of forgiveness and restoration, it was time to exult and rejoice.