Fasting and Feasting Part Two
On Saturday, we had the opportunity to participate in a fast together as a church body. Some fasted from food, others from technology or social media, still others fasted from the very idea of fasting! Whatever we fasted from, whether listed above or not, the point was not necessarily to rid ourselves of these things (although that can be helpful from time to time too). The point was to orient our lives and our day around God instead of on our regular rhythms of eating a meal or checking Instagram and Facebook. In other words, we fasted from in order to feast on something different.
In the Gospels (especially the Gospel of Luke), we seem to constantly find Jesus going from place to place and sharing a meal with someone. In one such passage (Luke 7:36-50), Jesus is eating in the home of a Pharisee, and during this time, a woman comes in and begins weeping at Jesus feet. She uncorks a bottle of expensive perfume and anoints Jesus’ feet. Among a number of social faux pas’ and even questions and debates about the state of her standing before God, the woman is especially chastised for “wasting” this expensive perfume on such a moment. But not by Jesus.
Jesus proceeds to tell a parable to the Pharisee (Simon), explaining how forgiveness and gratitude work. And finally, Jesus pronounces on the woman forgiveness, and she leaves justified (at least in Jesus’ eyes), while the rest of the guests are puzzled about Jesus and about what this woman has done.
Now, I am going to set aside quite a few areas that could be of interest to us in this interaction, so that we can carry forward the theme of fasting from in order to feast on something different.
Because this woman is criticized for “wasting” this expensive perfume on Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, a similar story is told (although the details differ between these two accounts), and in that story the disciples’ claim that this perfume could have been sold to help the poor. The debate carries not only significance because of the status of the woman doing the anointing, but also because of the economic (and thus, also spiritual, because economics always finds a way to disrupt or play a role in how we view God) implications of her actions.
Luckily, Jesus tries to set the record straight for us. As we consider what are the areas that we can fast from in our lives in order to feast on something different, Jesus shows us through his words and this woman shows us in her actions how we can begin to live a life focused on feasting with Christ.
For this woman, she is willing to fast from a potential future that the perfume could have allowed her to have. She could have sold it and kept the money for herself to help her in life. She could have sold it and given to the poor, as is suggested in Matthew, and then she would have perhaps increased her standing in society. But instead, she anoints Jesus’ feet with it. Seemingly wasting it. But not so in Jesus’ eyes. In Jesus’ eyes, she has chosen to feast on something far greater than food, technology, or money. She is feasting with the Lord.
She has chosen to give something up so that she can honor and be with Jesus. At the end of the story, she leaves vindicated. She leaves forgiven. She leaves with an experience with God-in-the-flesh that she will never forget. Nor will we (Matthew 26:13). She has chosen to feast with her Lord and Savior, Jesus.
This week, may we continue to live in such a way that we are fasting from what is good, so that we can feast upon what is greater. May we choose to feast with Jesus.
Questions to ask yourself this week:
- Where during my day am I creating space to feast with the Lord? Can I create time and space during the day to spend in prayer, reading Scripture, or in sharing a conversation about faith with someone?
- What is something good that is taking the place of something greater in my life? Can I fast from that so that I can devote that time to God instead?
- Notice others who might be trying to feast with God this week. How can you encourage them to continue to feast with God?