Saturday, January 28, 2023

Handout - Matthew Chapter 9:9-15 - The Call of Matthew, Question About Fasting

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 9:9-13 - Jesus Calls Matthew

Jesus's summons of Matthew was born out of a previously established relationship, and Matthew was ready. Jesus's was calling Matthew to make a life change on his road of life. The Greek "akoloutheo" from which "follow" is translated means "road", and implies that Jesus called out to Matthew to change his direction and get on a different "road" completely. Matthew heeded the call. As a result of Matthew's career change, he throws a party with his friends and co-workers (Mat 9:10). Jesus was apparently quite comfortable with the sinners and tax collectors, while the Pharisees who were in attendance wanted nothing to do with them.

Jesus's response to the Pharisees was that the healthy do not need a doctor, but the sick do, and His mission was to bring health to the sick (Luk 4:18). Jesus confronted the Pharisees directly, insulting them and their lack of knowledge about God's Word (Mat 9:13). When Jesus told the Pharisees to "go and learn", he referred them to Hos 6:6. In Hosea's day, the apostate religious leaders had strayed from having a merciful attitude towards others and instead they practiced ritual and legalistic law resulting in self righteousness and criticism of others. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that it was not the dead practice of ritual sacrifices that God wanted, but rather heart change and mercy. This harken's back to Mat 7:1-5, showing how the Pharisees judged with an attitude of superiority and disdain.

At this point, the Pharisees were done with their investigation into Jesus, and from this time forward followed Him everywhere and objected to everything He had to say and do.

Matthew 9:14-15 - A Question About Fasting

This question of fasting by John's disciples was an honest one on their part, and Jesus answers the question rather than rebuking them as He did with the Pharisees. The answer has far reaching implications to the Jewish Law. John's disciples were fasting regularly, and they saw the Pharisees fasting often, but Jesus's disciples never fasted. This seemed inconsistent to them (Mat 9:10, Luk 5:33, Mar 2:18). The New Testament does not command that people fast, and it is not a measure of spirituality, however, it is assumed and recognized that it is beneficial. It is a private matter and is intended for focus one upon a personal task, need or relationship with God.

The broader answer to the question was that "Biblical" Judaism was the keeping of this Mosaic Law, the law given by God for the nation of Israel. The Pharisees developed and added an entire system of traditions, rules and regulations, called "Rabbinic Law", "Oral Law" or "Pharisaic Judaism". Jesus was standing against additions of Pharisaic Judaism, and standing for the God given Mosaic Law. This is what enraged the Pharisees to the point they wanted to kill Him, Jesus was doing away with their added system of law. Jesus used the analogies of the patched cloth and wineskins to illustrate this. He did not come to "patch" Pharisaical Judaism, but to do away with it. (See Yeshua - The Life of Messiah Vol. 2 by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, page 201 for example of how Rabbinic Law (Pharisaical Judaism) was introduced.)

The Bridegroom

Jesus associated the fast with mourning. When asked His disciples did not fast, he replied "how can the guests of the bridegroom mourn...". To explain why His disciples did not fast, he used a metaphor of the wedding feast, in keeping with the theme of the coming Messianic Kingdom (Mat 9:15). The metaphor illustrates the absurdity of mourning and responding with a fast at a time when a feast is taking place. Likewise, it is absurd to do the same when the Master is present and healing and performing miracles. This is not the time to fast. The time to fast is when the bridegroom is taken away from their presence, not while He was walking among them (Joh 16:16-20).

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