From Feasting to Fasting to Feasting

January 11th, 2014

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Luke 5:27-39

In Jesus’ day fasting in Judaism was a sign of waiting; of mourning that the long anticipated kingdom of God had not yet come. It was a sign of repentance in preparation for its coming. The Jews were offended that Jesus and His followers did not participate but spent their time feasting and celebrating.

What they did not understand was that in Jesus the kingdom had already begun and there was no longer a need to fast for its coming. The appropriate behavior was to have a party. Jesus compared it to a wedding feast, a typical Jewish image for the new age. As N. T. Wright put it, “the last thing you do at a wedding is abstain from food and drink.”* But what about the fasting (mourning) when the bridegroom is taken? It will last for three days and three nights and then the celebration resumes with greater enthusiasm. Feasting becomes the order of the day: on the lake shore a breakfast of broiled fish, on the road to Emmaus broken bread and the regular feast of the Eucharist celebrating the establishment of the kingdom and anticipating its consummation in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

*N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: John Knox, 2004), 65.

Author: H. Ray Dunning


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