And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

Matthew 9.15

This important statement of Jesus on fasting came as an answer to a question from the disciples of John the Baptist.

Why, did they ask about fasting?, “do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?

Christ’s answer is deeply pertinent to whether Christians should fast today.

He said, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Though there were times when Jesus and His disciples went hungry, or when, due to the demands of the work, they had not sufficient leisure to eat, there is no evidence that He or they undertook a definite voluntary fast, other than our Lord’s forty days in the wilderness prior to the commencement of His public ministry.

Jesus gives the reason. The Bridegroom was still with the wedding guests; it was a season of feasting not fasting, of rejoicing not mourning.

The kingdom of God had drawn near. The old order with its rites and ceremonies and legal bondage had gone. Even when the Bridegroom was taken from them there would be no return to the legalism and asceticism of the old order.

Though His disciples would fast again, it would be for different reasons and in a different spirit from that which characterized the fasting of the Pharisees or John the Baptist. As Jesus explained, the old Judaistic wineskin was not a suitable receptacle for the new wine of the Spirit.