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Matthew
  
9. The Baptist’s Disciples Question about Fasting
(Matthew 9:14-17)
14Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”15And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Mark2:18-22; Luke5:33-38)


Christ shows us the meaning of true and false godliness, by His reply to the question asked by the disciples of John the Baptist, who was at that time cast into prison in very unpleasant conditions. The son of Zacharias taught the people to be sorry for their faults, repent and fast. His followers thought that Christ also taught His disciples brokenness and grief that God may be merciful toward their fear, repentance and diligence in godliness.
It seems that fasting is connected with the godly. They hoped to obtain the remission of sins and the blessing of God by their fasting. How terrible is this self-conceit! Yet grace is not obtained as a wage, it is a pure gift. Fasting will not clear sins away, and your malice will not be wiped out by making an offering. You are saved by your faith in the redemption of Christ. Then your fasting becomes thankfulness and not a trade, your giving praise will not be a payment for forgiveness. Grace, salvation, forgiveness and redemption come to us only in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the humble Lamb of God who took away our sins and wiped away our faults entirely. Faith qualifies us to come to God and continue in His fellowship given to us in the new covenant. The covenant of God’s love covers only justified sinners. They are bound together by the covenant of God’s love. Jesus considers them as His friends and explains that He is the bridegroom. They are with Him in the mood of great joy! Christians should not grieve the same way people without Jesus grieve. Christians are secure in hardship and they continue in the comfort of the Holy Spirit despite their problems and temptations, for God is with them and Christ is in them. He who recognized this unique privilege shall praise God with all his strength and thank Him for His great grace.
John’s disciples fasted often, partly in compliance with their master’s practice, for he came neither eating nor drinking. People are apt to imitate their leaders, though not always from the same inward principle, partly in compliance with their master’s doctrine of repentance.
John’s disciples blamed Christ’s disciples for not fasting so often as they did, “Your disciples do not fast.” They could not but know, that Christ had instructed His disciples to keep their fasts private, so as that might not appear to men to fast. Therefore, it was uncharitable of them to conclude they did not fast, because they did not proclaim their fasts. This leads us to the rule that we must not judge other people’s godliness by that which falls under the eye and observation of the world.
Observe that the quarrel with Christ (v. 11) was brought to the disciples, and the quarrel with the disciples was brought to Christ (v. 14). This is the way of sowing discord and killing love, to set people against ministers, ministers against people, and one friend against another.
At the same time, Christ calls us to be His stewards. Who will take heart, proceed towards our fellow men and invite many to come into the fellowship of Christ? Does the joy of your Savior in your life urge you to serve, preach, toil and work hard? Or to frown as if you have drunk bitter vinegar and not to do this work wholeheartedly, but to boast of it before your associates, or do something else? Everything that is not done by free will for the glorification of Christ makes you open to warnings of the judgment day. What will you say to the Lord when you stand before him to give account for the talents He has entrusted you with?
Jesus told His disciples that He would leave them and ascend to heaven. He sensed the fear that would come upon them as a result of this. They would then fast, pray and lament asking that He may come back again as soon as possible. As for us, we live at the time of close fellowship with Christ, for He has poured out His Holy Spirit into our hearts as a sign (down payment) of the spiritual contact between the bride and the groom. We are waiting for the coming of the bridegroom in public, that the fellowship may actually be realized in glory.

Prayer
Hallelujah, our Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who called us from the grief of sin into the joy of fellowship and delivered us from the heaviness of the law into the covenant of His love. We worship You and praise Your holy name. Please help us to communicate Your joy to our friends and enemies that Your good will may prevail on earth.
Question
Who are the friends of the bridegroom and how should they live?
PART 1
THE PRELIMINARY PERIOD IN THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST
(MATTHEW 1:1 – 4:25)
PART 2
CHRIST TEACHES AND MINISTERS IN GALILEE
(MATTHEW 5:1 – 11:1)
PART 3
THE UNBELIEVING JEWS AND THEIR ENMITY TO JESUS
(MATTHEW 11:2-18:35)
PART 4
JESUS’ MINISTRY IN THE JORDAN VALLEY DURING HIS JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 19:1 – 20:34)
PART 5
JESUS’ LAST MINISTRIES IN JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 21:1 – 25:46)
PART 6
CHRIST’S SUFFEINGS AND DEATH
(MATTHEW 26:1-27:66)
PART 7
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(MATTHEW 28:1-20)