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Fasting | Mark 2: 18-20

Fasting
By: O'neill Trull

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Mark 2:18-20
18 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?” 19 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. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

Fasting is an oft neglected discipline in the church, but its history far outdates the 2000 years since Jesus left. Throughout the Old Testament we read of fasting, and in one of my favorite passages of scripture, Isaiah 58, the prophet writes of the true fast that honors God.

One of the things that stands out to me in Mark 2 is the fact that fasting in and of itself is not what moves the heart of God. The Pharisees regularly practiced fasting, but Jesus said their hearts were far from the things of God. Jesus seems to indicate here that the highest purpose of fasting is intimacy with Him, not to impress God. How often do we seek to impress God with our spirituality, rather than seeking a deeper connection?

Here are some things I’ve learned through fasting. We are very frail, even 24 hours without food is a struggle! As we fast, we are reminded of our complete reliance on Him to meet even our most basic of needs. As we fast it can remove many distractions in our lives, yes, food for most of can be a distraction form our relationship with God. Fasting, if done with a heart of humility and a desire to learn, will always reveal sin in our lives, but it will also reveal God’s grace and peace, and His desire to deliver us. Some of my greatest spiritual growth has followed a season of fasting, because in the fasting, I met with God.

As we fast, we are reminded of our complete reliance on Him to meet even our most basic of needs.


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A Ministry of Preparation and Proclamation | Mark 1:1-18

A Ministry of Preparation and Proclamation | Mark 1:1-18
By O'neill Trull
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Mark 1:1-18
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

John the Baptist has always been a fascinating character to me, seemingly a wild man, living outside society eating locusts and honey! Yet Jesus said of him in Matthew 11, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist”. Pretty high praise for an individual. I want to focus on two aspects of his ministry, and then, why I believe Jesus called him great.

The first aspect we see, in verse 2, is a ministry of preparation. John’s calling was one of preparing people to encounter the Messiah. Much like a farmer will prepare the soil to receive the seed, John was called to prepare the hearts of those that Jesus Himself would preach to later. Everyday we have the opportunity to prepare our own hearts, and the hearts of those we encounter to receive what Jesus has for us. To receive hope, correction, peace, courage, honor, and freedom.

In verse 4 we read about his ministry of proclamation. A call for repentance and baptism, a shift in both thought and action. We can create a false dichotomy that the Gospel is about deeds, or about words. The life of John, and more importantly Jesus, would tell us it’s both. The Gospel, is about the whole person, about a new life, a new beginning, a new way of doing things. Our call like John is to both show and proclaim the goodness of Jesus.

"Our call like John is to both
show and proclaim the goodness of Jesus."


Finally, in verse, I believe we see the key to his greatness, that is his humility. He realized that he was merely a forerunner of the One to come, not the headliner, but rather the opening act. It is said that John was the final prophet under the Old Covenant, but I believe we can also say he was the prototype disciple: one who prepared people to encounter Jesus, proclaimed His Goodness, while walking in great humility. Our call is to do the same.

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