A Time to Mourn or Dance?
Generous Father, I want all You have for me. Embolden and energize me to receive it today as I come to You now.
Read Mark 2:18-22
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“It is clear; our Jesus was and is the Lord of the party. It is an often forgotten dimension of what Christianity is all about: the Kingdom of God is a party” (Tony Campolo).
Fasting was a traditional response to a national crisis. Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel all fasted when the nation was facing calamity. (Esth. 4:16; Neh. 1:4; Dan. 9:3). The Pharisees fasted twice a week to express their concern for the desolation of Israel (Luke 18:12), but Jesus and his disciples did not fast. Jesus said the kingdom of God had drawn near. God was on the move, healing, forgiving, setting free. This was a time to rejoice, not to mourn. Fasting at this time would be as inappropriate as mourning at a wedding (19).
Then, Mark adds another remark of Jesus that seems to move in the opposite direction (20). The “bridegroom” is now Jesus himself. He foresees a time when he will be put to death. That will be a time for all true Israelites to mourn for the nation that has rejected its true king. What does this say to us today? The bridegroom was taken away, but returned to life. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. So, is he with us or not? Is this a time to mourn or a time to dance?
The same point is made by the parable of the wineskins. The new wine of the kingdom cannot be contained in the wineskins of the old religion. We nod happily because the old religion is not ours, but then we remember that Christian history is littered with examples of old wineskins unable to receive some new work of God. From the safety of posterity, we cheer the pioneers and reformers who broke the mold and burst the skins, but are we in danger of resisting God today? Conversely, is it possible that some of us have been too ready to label ourselves as new wine and dismiss those who disagreed with us as old skins?
How can (and do) you tell whether a new movement is a work of God? What tests would it have to meet?
Lord, help me know the difference between a fad and Your work. I want to cooperate with a work of Your Spirit.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.