Luke 5:34

ESV And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
NIV Jesus answered, 'Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?
NASB And Jesus said to them, 'You cannot make the attendants of the groom fast while the groom is with them, can you?
CSB Jesus said to them, "You can't make the wedding guests fast while the groom is with them, can you?
NLT Jesus responded, 'Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not.
KJV And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?

What does Luke 5:34 mean?

Jesus has been asked why the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees fast, yet His don't (Luke 5:33). His answer calls back to the Old Testament relationship between God as the groom and Israel as the bride. The arrival of God the groom was tied to deliverance (Isaiah 62:4–6). Though Jesus' sacrifice, resurrection, and return are yet to come, His mere presence is worthy of celebration. It's not suited to the mourning of fasting, or even to a plea that Messiah will come—He's already there.

"Wedding guests," in this culture, refers to the groom's attendants. Matthew 9:15 says, "Can the wedding guests mourn" instead of "fast." The arrival of the bridegroom brings joy and commences the celebration. Jesus' presence is God-with-us. His work of providing forgiveness for repentant sinners deserves celebration (Luke 5:29–32), and the same is true of His mere presence. His "attendants," in this case, are His disciples, and their experience is not compatible with mourning…yet.

Modern Christian believers are used to hearing Jesus named as the bridegroom of the church. Yet this imagery is new to the Jews present in the moment Luke describes. They think of God as the bridegroom of the nation of Israel (Hosea 2:16–20). This is the second of many times Jesus is referred to as the bridegroom in the New Testament (Matthew 22:2; 25:1; Luke 12:35–36; Ephesians 5:22–23; Revelation 19:7; 21:2). The first was given by John the Baptist (John 3:29).
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