Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:18-23

Jesus continues to cause a stir. This time not only with the Pharisees or teachers of the law but with John’s disciples. Everyone seems to be confused by the fact that Jesus is eating and drinking while good “religious” people are refraining through fasting. In their wrestling, they ask Jesus pointed questions.

Fasting had always been a good way to connect with God because by refraining from satisfying necessary needs, their physical bodies reminded them of their ever-present need for God. This is how they had been relating to God for many years. Fasting helped them nurture and expand their devotion to God. So, it makes sense why Jesus was so disorienting to them.

However, these religious people were being invited into something new – to connect with God in a new and deeper way. They didn’t need to fast to affirm their closeness to God because God came near to them. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is near. And when Jesus is near, God is near. The confusion over how to connect with God became an invitation to open their hearts to receive a beautiful, loving, and joy-filled relationship with Jesus who came near to them.

Apprentices of Jesus are marked by being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus and doing as he does. Soak in the realization that Jesus is alive and has come near to you. Open your hands in a posture of receiving and smile as you pray “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”

By Yvonne Biel