The DEEP

Jesus, Your Disciples Don't Fast

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

Luke 5:33-39 (ESV)

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

At first glance, Jesus’ response doesn’t seem to fit with what the Pharisees and their scribes have just asked about. But it does.

Notice that they don’t actually ask a question. They just point out that other disciples fast and pray while His disciples eat and drink. They are implying that Jesus’ disciples should be fasting and praying too.

Jesus’ response is all about time. Remember, Jesus fasted for 40 days not that long ago. He could bring that up, but He doesn’t want to play their game of one-upmanship.

Instead, He teaches. Now is not the time to fast; He (the bridegroom) is still with them. Jesus predicts that He will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.

Jesus then tells two parables that illustrate how timing matters. In both cases, an attempt to do something good turns out badly because people ignore time factors. Lastly, He mentions that older wine is better simply because it is older. Again, time matters. This sounds like Ecclesiastes.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

Most of the lesson is actually pretty obvious stuff. But implicit in all this is His claim that He is the central figure of His time, and while He is here everything is different.

And this time will be short. Fasting is important, but right now there’s a short-term agenda that takes precedence.


How’s your time management? Many people say that they waste too much time on meaningless things. Are you like that? Are you taking the time necessary to allow the Lord to direct you?

Pray about your prayer life. That sounds silly but it isn’t. It’s just a kind of open ended prayer. If you don’t think you have a problem, you might ask God to show you where you can do better. If you do have a problem, you might ask God to show you how to fix it.

Who knows, you may ask for one thing and get another.

Don’t be inflexible with prayer. Nothing in the world is more unpredictable.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.