What Jesus says about fasting?

Answered by Frank Schwing

In the Bible, Jesus addresses the topic of fasting and provides guidance on how it should be approached. He emphasizes the importance of fasting for the right reasons and warns against seeking attention or pity from others while doing so.

Jesus begins by advising his followers not to fast in a showy or attention-seeking manner. He encourages them to avoid appearing somber or sad when fasting, as if they are trying to draw attention to their religious practices. Instead, he suggests maintaining a normal appearance by anointing their heads and washing their faces. The key point here is that fasting should be a personal and private act, not meant for public display or recognition.

By highlighting the need to keep fasting private, Jesus emphasizes the importance of sincerity and genuine devotion. Fasting should be done with a pure heart and the intention of seeking a closer relationship with God, rather than seeking praise or validation from others. Jesus teaches that the true value of fasting lies in its spiritual significance, not in how it is perceived by others.

It is worth noting that Jesus himself fasted on several occasions. For example, before he began his public ministry, he spent forty days and nights in the wilderness, fasting and praying (Matthew 4:2). His fasting was not meant to showcase his righteousness or gain attention, but rather to prepare himself for the challenges and temptations that lay ahead.

Furthermore, Jesus warns against hypocrisy in fasting. In Matthew 6:16-18, he criticizes those who fast with the intention of being seen by others, suggesting that they have already received their reward in the form of human recognition. Instead, Jesus encourages his followers to focus on their inner spiritual growth and the connection they have with God during the fasting process. It is the genuine and sincere heart that matters, not the external appearance or the opinions of others.

Jesus teaches that fasting should be a personal and private act, done with sincerity and humility. The focus should be on the spiritual growth and connection with God, rather than seeking attention or validation from others. By emphasizing the inner intentions and motivations behind fasting, Jesus invites his followers to approach this spiritual practice with a genuine and humble heart.