Jesus and His Teachings

Jesus and His Teaching of Fasting

Gtpministries.org – Fasting is one of the rituals or religious worship that is always performed by all the followers of religion in the world since the previous peoples until now. Fasting is one of the forms of religious rites that can improve the spiritual quality of humans and as a means of self-purification in order to draw closer to God, which in its implementation refers to the respective scriptures.

Fasting in each religion has a different concept, as does fasting in Christianity. However, what needs to be understood is how religious communities are able to understand, realize and appreciate the fundamental meanings contained therein, rather than being trapped in the realm of formality.

Fasting in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew  tsum, tsom  and  ‘inna nafsyô  which literally means to humble oneself by fasting. In the New Testament, fasting comes from the Greek  nêsteuô  (not eating),  nêsteia , and  nêstis . In the Bible, the letter of the Acts of the Apostles (27: 21, 33), the words asitia and asistos are used (Douglas (ed.), 2008: 280).

Fasting is a voluntary act of abstaining completely or partially from food and/or drink, either for religious purposes or for other purposes (Heuken, 1994: 52), for example as an expression of sorrow and suffering, sorrow or sin, as well as wanting to reflect on things that holy (Sismono, 2010: 76).

Fasting in the Bible generally means not eating or drinking for a certain time (eg Est 4: 16), not always abstaining from certain foods (Douglas (ed.), 2008: 280). Fasting is also not done seasonally (Agung, 2003: 3).

Legal Basis for Fasting
In the Bible there is a statement that fasting is one of the things that every Christian needs to do apart from giving/zakat and praying. As explained by Franklin (2009: 11) that during the years when Jesus lived on earth, Jesus took time to teach his disciples about the principles of God’s kingdom, principles that were in conflict with worldly principles.

In the Sermon on the Mount, namely Jesus’ most famous sermon which was spoken while sitting (Bleeker, 1995: 77), specifically in Matthew 6, Jesus provides a pattern for how humans live as children of God. According to Franklin (2009: 11), this pattern is three special obligations for a Christian, namely giving alms (Matthew 6:1-4), praying (Matthew 6: 5-6), and fasting (Matthew 6: 16-18).

In the matter of fasting, Mat 6:16-18 mentions, “And when you fast, do not be gloomy like the hypocrites. They change their facial expressions, so that people see that they are fasting. I say to you: Verily they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that no one sees that you are fasting, but only your Father who is in the secret place. Then your Father who sees what is hidden will reward you”

In carrying out the teachings above (giving, praying and fasting), it should not be used as an exhibition of piety, but should be made a purely internal matter. That is, let God alone know about our giving, our prayers, and our fasting. All of this is used to further deepen the command in the Bible that the implementation of a teaching is not enough as a mere rite, but must be interpreted and lived with a sincere heart.

Jesus himself fasted twice a week and paid zakat of one tenth of his income. As stated in the Bible (Luke 18: 12): “I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all my income.”

Jesus explained that fasting, like giving and prayer, is a normal part of the Christian life. The attention given to fasting should be as great as the attention given to giving and praying (Franklin, 2009:11). As stated in the Bible, “And if one person can be defeated, two will survive. Three cords are not easily broken” (Eccl. 4: 12). What is meant by the three ropes here are giving, praying and fasting.

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