May 17, 2017
Today, in Matthew six, verses 16-18, Jesus is going to address the topic of fasting. While not a common practice among most Christians today, fasting was a spiritual discipline that was very familiar to the average Hebrew. As we will see, there was at least one day a year when every Israelite was expected to fast or afflict themselves. It was tied to the annual event called the Day of Atonement. But whether or not we fast is not the main point of what Jesus has to say in these verses. He is more concerned about the motive behind fasting, or better yet, the heart of the individual who chooses to fast. As it was with prayer, fasting had become just another way for Israelites to advertise their spirituality and impress their friends with their superior piety. Fasting had been hijacked from its original God-decreed purpose and been forced to serve as a means of self-promotion. People fasted to get noticed, not by God, but by men. They fasted, believing it would score them brownie points with God, and make them look super-spiritual to their peers. But Jesus wanted them to know that God was not impressed.