Fasting is ultimately a yearning for something missing. Something was previously experienced but now is absent from our lives.
Matthew 9:1–38 (NLT)
1Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town.
2Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”
3But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”
4Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?
5Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?
6So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
7And the man jumped up and went home!
8Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.
9As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
11But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
12When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”
13Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
14One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”
15Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
16“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.
17“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
18As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said, “but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her.”
19So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him.
20Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,
21for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”
22Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music.
24“Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him.
25After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!
26The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.
27After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
28They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?” “Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”
29Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”
30Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.”
31But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.
32When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak was brought to Jesus.
33So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” they exclaimed.
34But the Pharisees said, “He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.”
35Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
37He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
38So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Matthew 9:14-15 — “Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.’”
“Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger or a homesickness for God. It tells only half the story of Christian fasting. Half of Christian fasting is that our physical appetite is lost because our homesickness for God is so intense. The other half is that our homesickness for God is threatened because our physical appetites are so intense. In the first half, appetite is lost. In the second half, appetite is resisted. In the first, we yield to the higher hunger that is. In the second, we fight for the higher hunger that isn’t. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of a superior satisfaction in God; it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.” John Piper
Father in heaven, fill my life with a deeper awareness of your presence and power in my life. Grant me a deeper hunger for you than for those creature comforts the world offers. Give me victory this day. In the strong name of Jesus Christ my Lord I pray. Amen.
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