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Teach us to Pray: A Hunger for God
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Teach us to Pray: A Hunger for God

Adrian Holloway on May 1, 2011 with 0 Comments

Acts 13: 1-4, Matt: 9 14-17 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service.

SLIDE 1:

Title: “Teach us to Pray – A hunger for God”

Well, if you are here for the first time, we’re in a series on prayer, called “Teach us to pray” and this morning we come to the subject of fasting.

So let me start by being honest and just confessing to you how much I personally dislike fasting. Let me be honest and say, when I first became a Christian, the last thing I wanted to hear about was fasting. Because, I felt like I had a full-time job on my hands giving up a host of other stuff, so when I heard about fasting, I mean, that was almost the final straw. I was like: “Fasting? You have got to be kidding. On top of all the other stuff I’m supposed to give up, you’re now saying I’ve got to starve myself? I mean first you want me to give my money away, and now I’m not even allowed to eat anything.”

 

So given that – you may be surprised to hear that I am actually quite excited about this talk. So let’s start with fasting in the life of the early church.

SLIDE 2:

1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)

 

Point 1. The church at Antioch thought fasting was part of the New Covenant.

Now we can see at least four important things about fasting in this short passage:

1. The church at Antioch thought fasting was part of the New Covenant.

We see fasting throughout the Old Testament. Moses fasts, King David fasts, there are numerous occasions when God’s people pray and fast. But maybe fasting is just an Old Covenant thing? After all, a lot of Old Testament fasting was borne out of a longing for God to come. But then God did come. The man, Jesus Christ was fully God. So maybe now that Christ has defeated sin, and risen from the dead, maybe, we don’t need to fast anymore? What do you think? Well, the church at Antioch obviously thought fasting was for today. These Christians obviously thought fasting was part of the new covenant.

SLIDE 3:

1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)

Point 2. They fasted as a group

Point 2. They fasted as a group

In other words, this was a public thing. If I’d been part of the Antioch church, if I’d been Lucius, or Manaen, or any of the hundreds of Christians who may have been involved in this prayer meeting, everyone would have known that I was fasting. If I’m part of this church, I’m not fasting in secret.

What’s the big deal about that? Well didn’t Jesus teach that when we fast we should keep it a secret? Jesus taught that when you fast, you should wash and then rub oil into your face so that no-one would know you’re fasting. Because if you’ve not eaten anything for a few days, you begin to look a bit drawn and pale and washed out, so Jesus said: ‘get some oil and rub it in to sort of perk up your facial appearance, so that no-one will know you’re fasting’. Jesus said that then God, “your Father, who sees your secret fasting will reward you.”

So how come these Christians at Antioch weren’t keeping their fasting  secret? Well, it’s worth remembering the context that Jesus was speaking into.

Because something almost unbelievable was happening in Jesus day! Something, which, to us, sounds laugh out loud ridiculous. In Matthew 6:16, Jesus says that the Pharisees were deliberately dis-figuring their faces so that everyone would know that they were fasting!

These are grown men putting on make-up, but NOT make-up to make themselves look better, no this was eye-liner and eye-shadow to deliberately make themselves look worse.

Can you imagine how comical this was? There is Mr Pharisee, he’s about to leave his home in the morning, but before he does, he goes to the mirror and deliberately dis-figures his face, because he’s hoping that if he can make himself look bad enough, then when he bumps into someone he knows in the street, they’ll say,

“Hey, is everything OK, you look tired, are you feeling a bit under the weather?”

Mr Pharisee says: “No, I’m not ill. Why do you ask?”

“Well, if you don’t mind me saying, you look a bit drawn and pasty, in fact your eyes look a bit dark.”

“Oh that. Yeah, I’m just fasting at the moment. Just hungry for God. You know me. Always seeking God!”

“Oh, Mr Pharisee, you’re such a holy person, always fasting, I could never be like you.”

Mr Pharisee replies: “I agree, you’re right, you probably never will be as holy as me. In fact, let me just pray about myself, ‘Lord I thank you that I am not like this tax collector, unlike him, I fast twice a week’ . . .”

And that’s how the Pharisees got their kicks. They were devoted to praise from men.

And Jesus, of course, thinks this is outrageous hypocrisy, so Jesus literally calls them “play actors”. And Jesus tells us not to follow their example, and to do exactly the opposite of what the Pharisees were doing.

So it is a sin to WANT to be seen to be fasting. Yeah? The church at Antioch clearly took the view that it’s not a sin to be seen fasting, but it is a sin to WANT to be seen fasting, which is what the Pharisees were doing.

So it’s your heart attitude that matters. If you can fast in public with pure motives then fine, no problem. My guess is that it’s probably easier to be sure you’ve got pure motives when you’re fasting in secret, but fasting in public is not wrong, and here, in Acts 13, it’s as they are fasting in public that God speaks. So we see . . .

Thirdly . . .

SLIDE 4:

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

Point 3. This fasting was chosen by God to be the moment when the Holy Spirit spoke directly to them (verse 2)

Point 3. This fasting was chosen by God to be the moment when the Holy Spirit spoke directly to them (verse 2)

Luke, the writer here, gives us the distinct impression that although the Holy Spirit could have spoken to them anytime, He, the Holy Spirit specifically chose to speak to them at a time when they were praying and fasting.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

How did the Holy Spirit speak? We don’t know, but speak he did. And Luke seems to see a connection between the praying, the worshipping the fasting and the fact that the Holy Spirit then spoke. John Piper says about this verse: “God loves to be sought for extraordinary guidance at key times in the history of churches through fasting.”

And I wonder if I could just give some personal testimony here.

You and I occasionally face big decisions in life. For the Antioch Church, this was one of them. We’re told in Acts chapter 11 that it was Paul and Barnabas who had taught the Antioch church. I mean, can you imagine growing up as a Christian in Antioch and you have Barnabas and the Apostle Paul preaching every week in your church! I mean the guy who went on to write half the New Testament is teaching you the Bible in your local church! It would have been awesome. I mean it doesn’t get much better than this. In fact it was at Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. So the idea of Paul and Barnabas leaving would have been a huge, not just for the Antioch church but for Paul and Barnabas also, who must have felt like they were leaving their family behind, leaving their children behind.

This was a massive decision, and so the church really wanted to hear from God about it, so they prayed and fasted both (verse 2) before and (verse 3) after making this decision.

Now we occasionally face big decisions of life.

For example, many years ago, I was a television presenter, and I wanted to know whether God wanted me to stay in that career as a sports reporter, or whether I should accept an offer of full-time employment from the church that I was part of at the time.

I knew that God had called me into sports journalism, but I also felt a calling to preach the gospel.

So I wrote to two famous TV presenters, who happened to be Christians, and I wrote to two gospel preachers who were nothing to do with TV, explaining my predicament, and asking for their advice, and guess what, the two famous TV presenters both wrote back saying: “My advice is . . . stay in the “secular media,” stay in sport, don’t take the church job.” And the two gospel preachers, both wrote back saying, “My advice to you is leave the “secular media”, and say ‘yes’ to the church job.” And so I was no further forward.

And then deep into this time of prayer, an evangelist I’d never met called J John rang me. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me through that phone call. Before the phone rang, I was all churned up, ‘what shall I do?’ But when I put the phone down, a supernatural peace came over me, and I felt total peace about giving up my sports reporting career. Once the Holy Spirit had spoken, it was probably the easiest decision I’ve ever made. So I saw out the rest of the season of prayer, and then I went in to see my boss and handed in my notice. (And I remember we had a long conversation about his time in a Methodist Church youth group.)

And as soon as I left his glass office, I gathered the whole sports department together and did a little speech, which was part resignation explanation, part evangelistic sermon, and the next 45 minutes was amazing, as one after another they each came up to me and they all sort of wanted to say where they were at with Jesus. It was extra-ordinary, as everyone kind of confessed their sins. In fact I’ve never known anything quite like it since.

Anyway, the reason I am telling you all this is, because, after I’d told everyone I was leaving, after I’d handed in my notice, but while I was working my notice period, I got another phone call, this time at work, at my desk.

I was three weeks away from my final ever day as a sports journalist. My phone rings, and it’s Mr Big, from A N Other TV station. The first words were: “Are you sitting near anyone? Can anyone overhear this conversation?” And he was talking about the opportunity of a lifetime. It was THE job to die for, presenting a really big show on a really big TV station.

But I had total peace that I’d already made the right decision. The Holy Spirit had already spoken. So I walked away from it all, and never looked back, which is easy to do when the Holy Spirit has spoken.

And I am excited about this fourth and final point from Acts 13, which is that

SLIDE 5:

1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)

Point 4. This season of prayer and fasting changed the course of history.

Point 4. This season of prayer and fasting changed the course of history.

It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of what the Holy Spirit said in this prayer meeting. Up until Acts 13, there had been no organized missionary thrust into Europe. Up until this prayer meeting in Acts 13, Christianity was still a Middle Eastern thing. Before this prayer meeting 13 of our 27 New Testament books had not been written. Without this prayer meeting, 13 of our 27 New Testament books would perhaps never have been written, because they were written to churches that were started directly as a result of this prayer meeting. Because of this time of prayer and fasting, the gospel went to Cyprus, then to Turkey, and then to Greece, and then to Rome, and therefore ultimately to Britain, and then to America, Africa, Australia and even now it’s going to the rest of the world. You heard the gospel because of this prayer meeting.

Less than 300 years after this prayer meeting, the whole Roman Empire was Christian, nominally at least. Something that would have seemed incredible to almost everyone living on earth, in 48AD, apart from those who were standing in this prayer meeting. The chances of Christianity becoming the official religion of Rome when this prayer meeting started were a billion to one, but it happened, as a direct result of what the Holy Spirit said in Acts 13 verse 2. God wants us to feel the strategic eternal value of this time of prayer and fasting. There are already millions of people right now who are with Jesus in glory enjoying eternal life as a direct result of what happened because this church decided to pray and fast. God wants us to see the scale of what can happen when Christians choose to pray and fast.

Fasting is about clearing some time out of your schedule to seek God. It’s about switching off your mobile phone, it’s about denying yourself the legitimate pleasure of food to hunger after God instead. Fasting says: “I want more of God in my life.” It’s a time to pray and read God’s word, and to use those 30 minutes you might have spent eating to go up the mountain and be with God on the mountaintop instead.

Now I want to ask you to notice with me that in these 4 verses there are 3 things: worship, prayer and fasting, that came together, and Luke wants us to see that this coming together of worship prayer and fasting prompted a major moving of God throughout the nations.

Now let’s just consider the UK church scene over the past 30 years or so. Is it not striking to you to think that in this country in the past 30 or so years, there has been an explosion of worship! There are huge worship concerts, worship schools, worship movements, Worship Central. Why are Christians buying worship CDs in their millions? Because there’s been a recovery, a restoration of worship in the church.

And similarly, in prayer, we’ve seen a similar explosion of prayer initiatives. 24/7 prayer, hundreds of churches prayer walking their towns, prayer triplets, schools of intercessors, healing prayer on the streets. Christian couples and singles prayer walking their neighbourhood.

But fasting? How much have we heard about fasting?

Could it be that God is saying, “I have restored worship to the church, and I am restoring prayer to the church, but I want to restore fasting to the church, and when that happens, then you’ll have all 3 legs of the Acts 13 platform in place, and then you might just see the sort of missionary advance that you read about in the book of Acts in your day in your nation and into the nations.”

Now let’s just come up for air for a moment. We’re more than halfway through the sermon, and you must surely be able to see where this sermon could be going. It’s probably going to end with you being told to fast!

So let me just ask: “how do you feel about that?”

You might be saying: “Look I can’t not eat!”

Well let me re-assure you, there is no-where in the New Testament where Jesus commands you to fast. So you don’t have to fast. In fact while Jesus was doing his three years of teaching and miracles in Galilee, and in Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples were not fasting. It’s true that Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness at the very start of his ministry, but his disciples didn’t fast.

Which is truly remarkable because all the other religious people alive in Israel at the time were fasting. But we know that Jesus disciples were not fasting and there was a good reason why. Jesus had told them not to fast. In fact, when Jesus was put under pressure to instruct his disciples to fast, Jesus refused.

Let’s see this in Matthew chapter 9 . . .

SLIDE 6:

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:14-17)

Picture the scene: John, the Baptist’s followers say: “Hey Jesus, why aren’t your disciples fasting? We’re fasting. Judaism fasts. Everybody in the Old Testament fasted. But your disciples aren’t fasting. What’s going on?”

Jesus answers with a word picture. (vs 15) ‘The guests at a wedding reception cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they?’

And in that reply, Jesus has said one ordinary un-surprising thing, and one extra-ordinary thing that is almost too glorious for words.

The ordinary, un-surprising thing is that Jesus connected the old fasting with mourning, tears, yearning, sadness. Fasting was what you did in the Old Testament on days when you’d tear your clothes, put ashes on your head, because your sins were so great, or something terrible was happening. Fasting was about humbling yourself. Like in 2 Chronicles 20 when God’s people were surrounded by their enemies, the Moabites and the Ammonites had come to make war. And King Jehoshaphat is told: “a vast army is coming against you.” And it says King Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast for all Judah. Fasting was often an act of remorse in the Old Testament, and we see here that that is how Jesus viewed it.

But here’s the second thing Jesus was teaching . . .

The bridegroom is here.

Who’s the bridegroom of Israel in the Old Testament? Isaiah 62, Ezekiel 16, Hosea 2? God is the husband and the bridegroom of Israel. The whole of Jewish history was the story of Israel waiting for her husband, her bridegroom to come. And then in 30AD a young rabbi called Jesus of Nazareth says, “you’re asking me about fasting? You know how you’ve been waiting for Israel’s bridegroom to come? . . . you don’t fast when he comes.”

Dramatic pause.

Jesus says: “The reason why my disciples don’t fast is because you don’t fast when the bridegroom is here!”

Boom!

The stars should have fallen from the sky, the rocks should have split, the dead should have risen. Jesus is saying, “As I stand in these sandals, God stands in these sandals. As I am speaking words to you, God is speaking words to you. The bridegroom of Israel is suddenly here.”

Jesus is saying, “Look at me! Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity” Jesus is saying: “The transcendent has now become imminent. The Spirit is now living in a body. The Holy One has humbled himself and now eats bread and fish just like you do.” Jesus is saying that the pre-existent Word of God has somehow limited his omni-presence, his everywhere-ness to become human just like you.”

Jesus is saying: “This is it! Israel’s centuries of waiting and yearning and mourning are now over . . . Israel’s bridegroom is now here!

Jesus’ point is “This is too good! It’s like a wedding, it’s like a party! It’s the most stunning thing that has ever happened in the history of the world. You can’t tear your clothes and put ashes on your head. This is too wonderful! That’s why my disciples are not fasting.”

I mean those of you here this morning who are married men. Just imagine, you walk into your own wedding reception, everyone’s standing up. You’ve got your new bride on your arm. And then you sit down to eat. You and your new wife tuck into your dinner, but all your guests stay standing. They refuse to sit down and eat with you. They say: “No, sorry, we’re not going to celebrate. No champagne please on our table, no wine. No food on our table, we’re fasting. No roast potatoes, no roast chicken, no apple pie and crumble, no custard, no cream, no nothing. We’re not celebrating, we’re fasting.”

“No that’s ridiculous,’ Jesus says, “No-one has ever heard of a wedding banquet, where the guests fast. You’ve never heard of that, I’ve never heard of that.

“When the bridegroom comes, we all eat and celebrate together don’t we! The guests don’t fast, they eat, for hours, they dance, they drink, they celebrate. Who ever heard of fasting at a wedding?

“But,” Jesus says, “the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast.”

And so Jesus never commanded his followers to fast, but Jesus did prophesy that after he was taken from them, that then, they would fast.

And in Acts chapter 1 verse 9, Jesus was taken away from them. Acts 1:9 says: “After Jesus said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”

And so after Jesus ascension, they did fast, and we’re not surprised, therefore, to find them fasting in Acts 13.

So what’s this new covenant fasting all about?

Now here comes Jesus explanation, in Matthew 9:16

Jesus uses two analogies, first he says: “you know when your old coat gets worn and ragged after 25 years of wearing it every day, and it’s got a big hole in it? No-one sews a patch of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment to cover the hole, because when you put coat in the wash, the new bit of material will shrink in the wash, and when it does, the new patch will shrink and pull away from the old and make the tear even worse.” No-one does that.

Same problem if you’re pouring new wine into an old leather hardened wineskin. The new wine is young. The old leather wineskin is not supple enough to cope, it’s not flexible enough, it can’t cope, it’ll crack, and when it does, your lovely new wine will break the mould and spill out everywhere on the floor, and then no-one will be able to drink it, which will be a terrible waste. So Judaism? How do you make the most of the new wine? Solution? Jesus says, Judaism, you need a new wineskin for the new wine.

When Jesus came, he wasn’t just talking about reforming corrupt practices within the religious system of his day. Jesus didn’t come to patch up the old coat.

Jesus came carrying new wine from heaven. And Jesus was just being realistic. He said: “you pour me into your old system, I’ll smash it open just like I smashed up the tables of the traders and dove sellers in the temple.” The old wineskins can’t accommodate me! The king has come, the bridegroom is here.

[Extempore list of what Jesus has done for you]

“You just can’t fit all that into the old wineskin.”

And so, the new wine demands new fasting.

The new fasting is borne out a fantastic tasting of the new wine that we have already tasted. Sins are forgiven this morning, Satan is conquered this morning, the doors of heaven are open to us this morning, it comes from the fact that Christ is here this morning, it comes out of death defeated and life without end.

You see, you can hunger for something you’ve already tasted. If I’ve tasted a new rich red lovely full fruity wine that I really like, I want more of it, not less. The taste that I’ve had makes me want more!

I have noticed, that my four children are hungry for chocolate and ice cream. Why? Is it because they’ve never tasted it before? (That was the hunger of the old fasting) No, they are hungry for it because the taste that they have had was so awesome (that’s the new fasting)! My kids want more chocolate and more ice cream, because they have already had a taste of it, that’s why they want more. They were fasting in Acts 13 not because they had to, but because they wanted to, they chose to. These Christians in Antioch are saying: “This taste of Jesus alive in his church is so good, we want more. More people to meet him, more churches, more salvation, more souls, more of Jesus in the world, and in our lives.”

And that’s why we want more of the new wine! We’re thirsty for more, we want to drink and drink and drink more of the new wine, because the taste we’ve had of Jesus is so good that we want more of him.

Imagine, for a moment, a young woman who has waited her whole life for the perfect man to walk in the room. Your bridegroom finally arrives. When he does, and the romance begins, you don’t walk away after the first kiss. No the first kiss is just the beginning of the rest of your life. And once you’re married, you don’t walk out during the honeymoon. You don’t reject him after he’s tied the knot and promised in front of hundreds of people to never leave you. The new wine is here. You drink and drink again!

The reason why the book of Revelation ends with “even so, Come Lord Jesus” is not because we have never experienced his coming before, it’s because we have!

That’s the new fasting.

OK, three quick practicalities:

First of all, someone says: “Look, I can’t not eat.” Fine, no problem, let’s just put to one side, just forget about fasting from food for a moment. Eat and carry on eating. Let’s imagine, you’re not fasting from food for whatever reason, and incidentally, there are some medical conditions where fasting from food would be disastrous. Here’s the good news . . . there are tremendous spiritual benefits from fasting from other legitimate pleasures. For example, fasting from television. Now in most churches that is quite a good illustration, but I’ve come to realize that almost everyone at Christ Church is too busy to watch television, so just help me out here and try and think of some legitimate pleasure. I don’t know, Starbucks, Twitter, your smart phone. Now I’m sure that thing hasn’t got a hold on you. I’m sure it isn’t a stronghold in your life. I know you’re not enslaved to any bad habits, so you can just go ahead and prove that to yourself by not watching TV or not checking your emails, or not texting anyone, or not going on facebook, or whatever it is, for 24 hours, or for however long it would take for the fast to become meaningful for you. And then use the 30 minutes that you would have spent with your laptop open, to pray and fast with your laptop closed instead. Shut your computer down and drink the new wine instead.

Second possibility, someone says, “I want to fast from food, but this is socially awkward for me. You have to understand my job, If I started fasting people would notice.” OK? I understand, by not eating, you would be drawing unintentionally be drawing attention to yourself, which is the very thing you don’t want to do, so you feel uncomfortable with that. I get that. Maybe you have a dinner date, and you want to go and eat. It’ll be a great night out with friends, or it’s a work do. But problem is you’ve already decided to fast from food, I don’t know every Wednesday. You’re fasting one day a week, or you’re fasting the first Wednesday of every month, and the meal is on that Wednesday. Well in that case, just say: 6.00pm Tuesday night, the fast begins, the following morning, no breakfast, no lunch, but 6.00pm Wednesday evening, you celebrate and eat dinner with everyone else, no-one need ever know.

Third practical question . . . Moses fasted 40 days, Jesus fasted 40 days, what about fasting for more than 24 hours? What about fasting for more than 3 days? What about fasting for 7 days or 40 days? Now I’ve got to say this. I’ve been around our kind of churches long enough to know that there could be one young woman here today, or perhaps listening to the podcast on the internet and you’re hungry for God, you’re a very committed Christian, and this sermon could be potentially dangerous for you because you think you’re overweight, and you’re not. You honestly think you need to lose weight, but you don’t.

So in your mind, fasting is a sort of perfect storm combination of weight loss and spiritual zeal. So I’d say, especially, and forgive my saying so, if you’re a young woman and you’re thinking of a long fast, ask a leader, in fact ask two leaders, whether in their opinion, it’s safe for you to go on a long fast. If you tell two leaders in this church, “I’m thinking about going on a long fast” and they both say: “Please don’t, you’re too thin already,” then that is probably some advice worth taking on board.

Let me finish by saying this . . . about the context of Jesus calling us “wedding guests”, you know in the first century, at a Jewish wedding, if you got invited, open house lasted for a week. And that’s what Jesus says we are, we’re like wedding guests, at a first century Jewish wedding, open house was maintained for a week.

21st century Britain, typical wedding is dinner, dance and then at 11.00pm the band stops playing, and then the black bin liners come out and it’s time to tidy up, switch off the lights and go home, party’s over, but what Jesus had in mind for you is a wedding where you stayed and ate and drank at someone else’s expense for a week.

Michael Green says: “It was a time of great rejoicing and hospitality, dancing and fun, such as might rarely come into the lives of poor people. And it was all paid for by the bridegroom’s family. It was free to all comers.”

Band come up?

And so let me leave you with the most up to date illustration I could think of. For seven years, Kate Middleton was teased in the press because she’s what’s called a commoner. Her parents met when they were both cabin crew on British Airways. In other words, she’s not landed gentry. She doesn’t have a title. She’s got no royal blood in her veins. She didn’t even have a family coat of arms, they had to invent one from scratch a couple of months ago. In that sense, she was just an ordinary person, like you and me, but what does she care? Because one day, the coming King walked into her life. And the coming King, chose her. One day her bridegroom came. It doesn’t matter what your background is, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, when Jesus walks into your life, the King has come. The Bridegroom of Israel has come to marry you. So from now on you’re royalty. And the Bible says you will reign with Him for ever and ever.

ENDS.

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