They were certainly curious and perhaps a bit peeved.
They had been fasting while Jesus’ disciples were eating and drinking and enjoying life with Jesus.
If you’ve ever fasted you know it’s a sacrifice. If you’ve ever had to fast while others around you are eating, it’s even more difficult.
I experienced this first-hand on Monday. I was fasting, along with my church, during our week of fasting, but I had to chair a luncheon for about 60 attorneys at a nice hotel with very good food. I just tried to keep my eyes off the food and on our speakers instead.
So, the disciples of John approach Jesus and just asked him straight up, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Matt. 9:14). Jesus’ answer? My paraphrase: “There is no need for my disciples to fast when I”m physically present with them, but when I’m gone they will need to fast.” (Matt. 9:15).
If you look at fasting as a way to get scoreboard with God you are missing the point. If that was the point, Jesus’ disciples should have been fasting during Jesus’ earthly ministry.
For the Christian fasting is a way to quiet the flesh and your natural senses, draw near and hear Jesus. It’s like putting on noise-cancelling headphones; it helps quiet all the ambient sensory clutter and isolate your connection with Jesus in your spirit.
When Jesus was physically present on the earth fasting wasn’t necessary to hear Him. Now, though, fasting is a valuable spiritual discipline in tuning your spiritual ears to hear His voice. GS