What does Mark 2:18 mean?
ESV: 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?”
NIV: Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, 'How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?'
NASB: John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they *came and *said to Him, 'Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?'
CSB: Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. People came and asked him, "Why do John's disciples and the Pharisees' disciples fast, but your disciples do not fast? "
NLT: Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, 'Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?'
KJV: And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
NKJV: The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
Verse Commentary:
Jewish scholars' interpretation of the Mosaic Law says God commands a yearly fast only once (Leviticus 16:29–31; 23:32): on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The passage says the Jews are to "afflict" themselves. "Afflict" is from the Hebrew root word anah which means "to oppress or humble." In the Hebrew, the word for "self" or "soul" was from the Hebrew root word nephesh, which means "life, creature, person, or desire." But in the old Hebrew, nephesh also meant "throat or appetite" (Isaiah 5:14). So the Jewish scholars interpreted "afflict yourself" as "humble your throat:" to fast from eating food.

Zechariah 7:3–5 and 8:19 suggest that the Jews observe corporate fasting four other times throughout the year. Tradition gives several dates. One is 17 Tammuz, to commemorate Moses breaking the two tablets as well as several events around the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. The ninth day of Av (or Ab) as a memorial for the fall of the first and second temple. The third day of Tishrei is remembered in mourning for the assassination of Gedaliah, the governor of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:22–26). The thirteenth day of Adar is noted in commemoration of the fast Esther called the Jews to observe while under threat by Haman (Esther 4:15–16).

In addition, Jews fast corporately as needed for mourning (Esther 4:3), in response to God's judgment (Joel 1:14), or to appeal to God (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:5–6; Isaiah 58; Jeremiah 14:11–12; Jonah 3:5), or to accompany a request (Ezra 8:21–23). Individually, Old Testament characters also fast in mourning (Nehemiah 1:4), to make requests to God (2 Samuel 12:16–17), for repentance (Daniel 9:3–19), and in times they needed wisdom (Esther 4:16).

John the Baptist is in prison at this point, but his followers apparently maintain some of his ascetic lifestyle. They might be fasting in mourning and repentance for Israel's sin and political situation or to ask God to release John. It is about them that Jesus gives the metaphor of the bridegroom.

After the second temple period, people start fasting as a way to show personal piety and discipline. The Pharisees fast for this reason, although they lose sight of the fact that piety excludes an audience (Matthew 6:16–18). The upcoming metaphors of the un-shrunken cloth and the new wine expose their flawed thinking.
Verse Context:
Mark 2:18–22 contains the third of four altercations Jesus has with questioners and critics in this chapter. This incident focuses on the tradition of fasting, and is also found in Luke 5:33–39. The Pharisees and John the Baptist's disciples fast on a regular basis, but Jesus' disciples don't. The scribes—religious scholars that belong to the Pharisee sect—have imposed fasts on the people that God did not ordain. Jesus is not opposed to fasting (Luke 4:1–2; Matthew 6:16–18), but only in the proper context. While He is there, His disciples should celebrate, not mourn. Making a public spectacle to brag about how pious you are is not the proper context.
Chapter Summary:
Mark chapter 2 follows the typical style of Mark's gospel with a rapid succession of stories. Jesus heals a man who cannot walk, but only after declaring the man's sins to have been forgiven. Jesus then calls Levi, one of the publically-reviled tax collectors, as a disciple and is seen eating with those the Pharisees view as ''sinners.'' Jesus then answers a challenge about fasting and defends His disciples when they violate the Pharisees' views on keeping the Sabbath. All of these events are met with some resistance from Jesus' critics. He responds in each case with a spiritual, reasonable defense.
Chapter Context:
In Mark chapter 1, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist then led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where He was tempted by Satan. He also taught and healed in Capernaum and throughout Galilee. In chapter 2, having returned to Capernaum, Jesus displays authority over four particular areas: the forgiveness of sins, social traditions, extra-biblical religious traditions, and the Sabbath. In response, the Pharisees—legalistic religious leaders—escalate their antagonism toward Him, culminating in a direct condemnation of His teachings. This sets the scene for Mark 3:6 when the religious and national leadership first get the idea to destroy Jesus.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 5/26/2024 4:34:24 PM
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