Forcing Religion

They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?”
- Luke 5:33-34

It’s hard for people to understand that religion doesn’t have to be forced. So they come up to Jesus and are dismayed that his disciples aren’t fasting like all the other good religious people were. You can see them trying to lean on Jesus, heavily hinting that his people are out of line.

I love Jesus’s response. The modern parallel would be, “Can you make all the kids quiet at a six-year olds birthday party?” The answer is, “Not a chance!” In a more subtle way, he’s saying, “I’m not going to force them into religious activities, regardless of whether you want me to or not.”

Jesus is then going to lower the boom when he drops the parables on them, but let’s save that for tomorrow. For today, ponder these two questions:

  1. When have you sensed others or yourself trying to “make” you be more religious in unhelpful ways.

  2. Have you done this to others?

Talk with Jesus about what surfaces for you in your reflections.