Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. Mark 2:18-20
God is Right Here!
For some reason, John’s disciples and the followers of Pharisaic teachings are fasting. A fast can be connected to seasonal practices, grieving, or atonement. Some people come to Rabbi Jesus confused because his disciples are not. Jesus answers with an interesting mix of illusions.
First, let’s look at the wedding guests and the bridegroom. YaHWeH is referred to as the husband and Israel the wife throughout the sacred scrolls. That marriage metaphor is continued as Jesus is referring to himself as the bridegroom amid a wedding festival. The Greek, translated as guests, literally says “sons of the bridechamber,” so I prefer wedding attendants. In other words, Jesus is saying that “God is right here!”
Then Jesus follows through; the day will come when the bridegroom will not be with his attendants. Then they will fast, likely connected to grieving. This metaphor appears to be the first passion prediction in Mark.
Lastly, the language in this second statement also contains an eschatological flavor. In other words, it also points to a time in the future preceding the end of the world and final judgment. This verse is artfully written, reflecting Mark’s Holy Spirit inspired literary prowess.
I thank you for coming into the presence of humanity. For this reason, we just celebrated the incarnation where we call you Emmanuel (God with Us!).
I also thank you for people like Mark, who applied his craft of language and literary structure to share your story. Your Holy Spirit gifted him, and it inspires people like me who ply our craft in sharing your story today.
Remind us that you came, and you will come again. Please help us be good attendants preparing for the great feast to come when life, the universe, and everything will be consummated.
I pray this in the name of he Who was, Who is, and Who is to come. Amen!