Feasting and Fasting
FEASTING & FASTING
Part 5 of Deep Water Faith. Luke 5:33-39
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. June 25, 2017.
I’ve called this sermon Feasting and Fasting because feasting and fasting are two ways of loving and longing for Jesus with all our heart. From the very beginning of my Christian experience, I’ve cherished Jesus. No one taught me this. I guess the Holy Spirit put it in me and it is a constant thing - a daily delight in Jesus.
As we move into Cornerstone 2.0, I’m saying that we want to be a church that loves and longs for Jesus. He’s the blazing center of our faith. Psalm 42 reveals the heart of a someone who won’t accept any substitutes for Jesus:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” - Psalm 42:1-2
Here’s where we’re headed this morning:
First, we’ll look at an example of NOT loving and longing for Jesus - the Pharisees.
Then, we’ll look at an example of loving and longing for Jesus - the Disciples.
Then, we’ll talk about how we can love and long for Jesus.
Here we go ….
EXAMPLE #1: THE PHARISEES - verse 33.
The Pharisees were everything we do NOT want to become - Jesus-rejecting, joy-killing, self-absorbed, and mean. The Pharisees rejected Jesus because they didn’t understand him. He was happy and they were miserable. He celebrated people and they criticized people.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” - Luke 7:34
The Pharisees had a twisted kind of faith. They believed they were trying to please an angry God and needed to fast more, tithe more, give more, deny themselves more. Then God would be pleased and his glory would return to Israel.
On the other hand, Luke chapter 5 reveals that God in veiled glory had returned to Israel in Jesus; NOT as angry, BUT as accepting; forgiving sins and healing lives and eating and drinking with sinners.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” - John 1:14
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” - John 3:17
The Pharisees looked at Jesus and his disciples and saw them full of joy, eating feasts, celebrating, and welcoming notorious sinners into their fellowship. They couldn’t stand it. Religion is serious business after all. The criticized and condemned and ultimately crucified Jesus.
Clearly, the Pharisees are NOT an example to follow.
EXAMPLE #2: THE DISCIPLES - verses 34-35.
The disciples of Jesus were “eating and drinking.” In other words, they weren’t fasting. In fact, they were feasting. We know from 5:29-30 that they were going to banquets with the worst sinners in town - tax collectors and thugs of all kinds. So they didn’t look very spiritual.
The disciples weren’t grieving and fasting. They weren’t miserable. They weren’t doing what religious people were supposed to do. In the minds of the Pharisees, the disciples were a million miles from God.
But Jesus saw things very differently. He believed his disciples were doing exactly the right thing. It was time for celebration because Jesus was present. God was present with the disciples.
When he called himself the “bridegroom,” Jesus was using an analogy - a picture of a wedding feast to illustrate his point: Everyone celebrates at a wedding. Fasting would be completely out of line at a wedding. It would be rude. It would be ignorant. In other words, the Pharisees got it all wrong and the disciples got it all right.
This beautiful bridegroom analogy carries through the NT. Jesus is the groom who died to purchase and beautify his bride and to prepare her for the wedding. The bride is his people, his church. We’re betrothed to Jesus - a picture of purity and loyalty and promised intimacy. One day, Jesus will return for his bride. He will “marry” her and there will be a great banquet and the bride and groom will live together forever.
Jesus was saying, “I’m here! So celebrate.” The disciples were feasting for Jesus who heals lives and forgives sins and is God with us - loving, accepting, eating with us (see Micah 7:18-19).
There would be a time to fast and to grieve. They would fast when Jesus was taken away from them by force and crucified. They would fast after his ascension into heaven, longing for his return.
What about us? Is this feasting or fasting time? For us, it’s a “both-and” time. We feast because the Savior has come to save us; We also fast because he is not “here” face to face with us. So we long for his return when we shall be with our Lord forever.
APPLICATION: HOW TO LOVE AND LONG FOR JESUS - verses 36-39
It is too easy to set Jesus aside. Even in church. Even when doing church stuff.
That’s what Jesus was saying when he used the word pictures in verses 36-29. He’s the new way. He totally replaces the old way of the Pharisees. You can’t just add him to old ways of thinking about God and religion. Jesus says that’s as strange as cutting up a new dress to patch an old dress; or putting new wine that ferments and expands into an old wineskin that won’t expand. Or refusing to try the fresh new wine because you’re satisfied with the stale, old stuff.
Do you agree? We can get so busy doing church, that we miss the reason for church? We lose the joy of simply knowing Jesus (see Revelation 2:4-5 - “you have forsaken the love you had at first.”).
How do we keep Jesus at the center? How do we live as his bride?
The way to keep Jesus at the center of it all is to love and long for him. We need to strip everything down to those two simple spiritual disciplines: love Jesus and long for his return.
Here’s how we LOVE Jesus: we FEAST on him. We feast on him in worship, in delighting in his presence, in prayers, in the Word, and in the Lord’s Supper. We feast on Jesus - not information; not application. We want more of Jesus.
Here’s how we LONG for him: we FAST for him. We fast for him by denying ourselves any other supreme love. All sorts of things cry out to us for supreme love - good things and bad: for example, food, approval, success, friends, religious rituals, organization, serving, Bible study and so on. But we will not give these our first love. We agree with the psalmist:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” - Psalm 73:25-26
The ancient hymn writer Bernard of Clairvaux captured the essence of loving and longing for Jesus in his hymn Jesus The Very Thought Of Thee: “Jesus the very thought of Thee, With sweetness fills my breast, But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy presence rest.”