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First Baptist Church of Rockville

Why don't your disciples fast?

New Zealand has 60 million possums and they are an imported pest from Australia.  Dave and Fred used to take the dogs out in the truck.  They would set up their tent. Put the dogs back in the truck and drive until the dogs began to bark.  They would get out and use flash lights to find the possum up a tree or chase one up a tree. Then they would shoot the possum. One day Fred played a trick on Dave – he lowered the sights on Dave’s rifle.

They went out on a hunt that night and sure enough there was a possum up a tree caught in the spotlight. Dave shot at the Possum and missed completely – another two shots. One cutting through a branch. Both missed but they frightened the possum. The possum got startled and leapt from the tree and landed square on the head of Fred. Dave whipped round and aimed his rifle at the possum. “Don’t worry.” He said “I’ll get him. I’ll get him.” “Aim higher – Aim higher.” shouted Fred as he saw the rifle pointing straight at his head. Dave confident of his ability simply pulled the trigger. The gun jammed – The possum jumped off Dave’s head and onto the back of one of the dogs.  The dog was so startled by the possum on its back it jumped into the truck and hit the handbrake which released and the truck, dog and possum rolled down the hill. It ran over their tent crashed into the bush, felled a tree which crushed the truck and killed the possum.  The dog however was unharmed.

- Fred just looked at Dave and said – “59 million Nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand to go.”

- Dave replied. - “Good on ya’ Mate.”

* The moral of this story is to aim higher.

* In the Christian faith we need to aim higher we need, as Christians to be in the pursuit of excellence in our faith even though we know that we depend on grace.

* It has been said – “If you aim at the moon and miss at least you’ll be among the stars.”

Title: “Why don’t your disciples fast?”

Theme: “Jesus and his disciples did not fast.  In fact, it looked like all they did was have fun. Why aren't they fasting? How can they be celebrating? For the first time people were seeing what true religion was meant to be.  This simple question allows Jesus the opportunity to explain the special relationship awaiting any that would follow Him.”

* As Jesus continues to minister in and around Capernaum, He is once again confronted because of His teaching and ministry. Bear in mind that Jesus had shown great authority and power, but He did not follow the rules established by the religious elite.

* This morning, I would like to share with you the following lessons.

  1. Because Jesus is not like others, His disciples are different as well.

Mark 2:18, “Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

* Beloved, I want you to notice in this text it is not the Religious Elites that are questioning Jesus.  Instead it is the common men, women, boys and girls.

* It did not take them long to see a difference in the life of Jesus.  Notice as well they are not saying Jesus does not fast.  Instead they are bringing to light the difference between those who follow John the Baptist and the Pharisees and the disciples of Jesus.

* Oh, that people would see a difference in us because we follow Jesus.

* Jesus is not like others.  He describes Himself as the Bridegroom and His disciples as the guest at His wedding.

Mark 2:19, “And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.”

* Beloved, you can’t fast when you are with Jesus.

* Jesus said it's very natural for people to hang on to their familiar religion. They have cultivated such a taste for their own religion that if you offer them something else, they're not interested in it. They're so self-satisfied with the familiar.

* Fasting, for many, had become a religious act, which made them appear pious.

* You cannot patch old religion onto Christianity.

  1. There is a time and place for fasting.

Mark 2:19-20, “19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”

* Beloved, when you are with Jesus you will always be doing the right thing.

* There was no reason for His disciples to fast, and He explains why when He replies to them. You don't fast at a wedding. A wedding is a celebration.

* Jesus tells them that the time is coming when He will be taken from them, and then His disciples will have a reason to fast. He is speaking of the cross.

* In the Jewish history, you can find a one day fast, you can find three-day fasts. You can find seven-day fasts. You can find twenty-one day fasts. You can find even 40 day fasts, such as Exodus 34, Deuteronomy 9, and 1 Kings 19, and that's what Jesus did. He was fasting 40 days when He was tempted in the wilderness. So there are examples of voluntary fasts.

* However, there is one other element, and that is secrecy. No one should know when you fast. It is between you and God only.

Matthew 6:16-18, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

  1. Two examples that explain the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

* What our Lord is saying is this: He has not come to continue the old dispensation that placed men under the law. That is the old covenant, and it is ending. He has brought a new covenant of grace, where whosoever will trust Him receives a robe of righteousness.

* He said, “I haven’t come to patch up an old garment, but I have come to bring you a new garment.” This is entirely new and radical. John summed it this way.

John 1:17, “For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

* New wine goes into new wine skins and a new garment goes on a new man; one that is “born again”.

* A new garment.

Matthew 22:1-4, 11-14, “And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.  11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

* Jesus also reminds them that wine skins were not reusable.  No recycling required!

* The kingdom of God is a place of change. We become new people. That newness is not a one-time event. Change and being shaped into God’s image is a constant in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.

* And it all begins with Jesus.

Here Favorite Verse by Ron Mehl

I heard once about a dear saintly old woman who was gradually losing her memory.  Details began to blur. Once-familiar names began to elude her, and finally, even well-loved faces slipped from recognition.  Throughout her life, however, this woman cherished and depended on the Word of God, committing to memory many verses from her worn Bible.  Her favorite verse had always been 2 Timothy 1:12, “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

She was finally confined to bed in a nursing home, and her family knew she would never leave the bed alive.  As they visited with her, she would still quote the verse of Scripture on occasion. But with the passing of time, even parts of this well-loved verse began to slip away.  “I know whom I have believed,” she would say.  “He is able to keep…what I have committed…to him.” Her voice grew weaker. And the verse became even shorter, “What I have committed…to him.”

As she was dying, her voice became so faint family members had to bend over and listen to the few whispered words on her lips.  And at the end, there was only one word of her life verse left.  “Him.”

She whispered it again and again as she was entering the threshold of heaven.  “Him…Him…Him.” It was all that was left.  It was all that was needed.  She couldn’t recall the verse, but the word she remembered was by far the most important word in the Bible.  She held onto the one word that is really the heart of all Scripture.  “Him!”

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