"Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast ... " (Luke 5:34-35)

"Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast." (Luke 5:34-35)
Here is this same statement according to the Book of Matthew:
“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." (Matt. 9:15)
This statement is in response to the Pharisees' questioning of Jesus' teachings and the actions of Jesus' disciples:
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." (Luke 5:33)
Jesus' response is practically identical in Matthew and Luke. However, we can get some clarity from the statement in Matthew that there is a conditional relationship between the fasting and the "bridegroom" being "taken from them." Why is this a conditional relationship and why did Jesus' disciples not fast?

Why didn't Jesus' disciples fast?

Periodic fasting, like prayer, is an ancient devotional practice, as indicated by the Pharisees. The devotional custom from ancient times is that students of saintly teachers will typically observe the practices of their teacher and work to serve the teacher while the teacher is still on the planet, and then when the teacher departs, they will fast in observance to their teacher. They will typically fast on the day of his appearance (the birth of his body) and the day of his departure (the death of his physical body).

Now Jesus' teacher was John the Baptist. We know this because all four scriptures detail that Jesus approached John in the desert, heard his teachings, and took baptism from him. This ceremonial rite (same as the rite of anointing as observed by the Israelites) symbolizes the student submitting themselves before the teacher and God.

What does Jesus' bridegroom analogy mean?

This also explains Jesus' use of the analogy of the "bridegroom" and the "guests of the bridegroom." Actually and ironically, "guests of the bridegroom." is being translated from the word υἱός (huios) - which is the same word that was used to describe Jesus' relationship with God - υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. So is Jesus talking about the "sons" of the bridegroom here in this analogy then?

Certainly not. The lexicon, in fact, admits that the translation of υἱός (huios) to "son" would only refer "in a restricted sense," to a physical family. According to Thayer's lexicon:

"in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)"

Then it also clarifies part of its broader use:

"used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower 1) a pupil"

In other words, Jesus was comparing him and his disciples to a bridegroom and the assistants of the bridegroom. These are also referred to as "groomsmen" in modern marriages.

In other words, "guests of the bridegroom" is not a correct translation. Jesus is talking about assistants to the bridegroom - they are in essence, "following" - assisting the bridegroom.

And this explains why Jesus would use this analogy, because he saw his disciples as his assistants. They were assisting him in his mission - preaching to others the necessity of turning to God.

In other words, Jesus' efforts were focused on preaching, and his disciples' efforts were focused upon assisting Jesus in his preaching efforts. Jesus was executing the wishes of his own teacher, John the Baptist, by spreading those teachings throughout Judea, and Jesus' students were assisting Jesus' service.

Why did Jesus' teachings mirror John's?

How do we know that Jesus was teaching the same thing as John the Baptist? Consider these three verses:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:2)
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)
And Jesus also told his disciples to teach the same teaching to others:
"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'" (Matt. 10:7)
Here is a discussion of the meaning of this teaching.

Jesus' preaching mission was an all-consuming affair, as Jesus kept traveling to different places, speaking to crowds and individuals alike. People didn't drive around in cars back then. They mostly walked or - if they could afford it - rode on a camel or donkey.

To walk miles from one town to another with no food in the largely barren and hot landscape of then-Judea should be considered an extreme hardship. It would be practically impossible to sustain walking these distances between towns and then setting up for a lecture without food and water.

What did Jesus' disciples do?

In other words, Jesus and his disciples were busy. They were actively pursuing a particular strategy to teach to as many people as possible. This strategy was pleasing to the Supreme Being because God wants us back. He wants us to come home to Him, because He knows this will make us happy. So Jesus' strategy was devotional, and there were many sacrifices that were made.

These sacrifices trump the sacrifice of fasting. Jesus' students gave up their occupations, their families, and often their homes in order to assist Jesus in his mission to introduce people to the Supreme Being.

This contrasts with the monk's life. The monk usually stays put in a monastery, and focuses upon prayer, fasting and maintaining the monastery for others to come there and worship. Monks do not typically conduct a traveling outreach campaign - and if they do, they will do it periodically. Thus they have more opportunity to fast, as they can slow down their energy output as they fast.

We know that indeed Jesus did fast on occasion, as he fasted for 40 days at one point.

Now Jesus is stating that he expects his students to fast once he departs from them. Again, this is the prevailing custom among the Jewish texts, and the reason the question was asked in the first place.

Why isn't fasting done now?

Today, instead of fasting and praying on the two ceremonial days - of Jesus' birth and departure as Jesus suggested here, many institutions that claim to follow Jesus promote mass materialism on these days: Now called Christmas and Easter.

These two holidays ("holidays" is derived from "Holy days") were actually politically merged with secular celebrations. Jesus' observance was combined with the up-to-then pagan holidays of Solstice and Eostre - the Saxon rabbit idol. They incorporated Solstice into a celebration of Jesus' appearance, and Eostre into an observance of his "rising from the dead."

Regardless, what we have left is two celebrations of materialism. On the two days that true followers of Jesus would fast, as indicated here by Jesus himself. Why are we not fasting on Jesus' appearance and disappearance days? At least half a day or until sunset?

Instead, these two days are spent overeating roasted carcasses and for some, getting drunk. Christmas is often celebrated by worshiping a pagan symbol - the Xmas tree - along with a fictitious fat man wearing a red suit. Meanwhile, Easter is spent eating candies and creating Easter egg hunts, while worshiping a pagan idol - the Easter bunny. Many historians indicate this holiday is actually based on an ancient worship of a idol goddess named Ēostre. Yes, the scriptures indicate that Jesus was crucified around the passover holiday. But this has nothing to do with the Easter bunny.

Both of these holidays practically ignore the teachings of Jesus. Many do not even remember Jesus in their celebrations, being fixated on childhood memories of rituals. These include decorating trees with glittery trash and hiding presents in wrapping paper to tease children into thinking those pieces of plastic junk will make them happy. Those presents are basically gift-wrapped emptiness.

In the days leading up to this phantasmagoria, adults scramble to stores to buy those empty presents, afraid of being judged for not buying the right gift.

What does all this have to do with Jesus and his teachings? Nothing. They are actually opposed to Jesus' teachings.

For most of the sectarian world, these events are not celebrations of devotion to Jesus: They are celebrations of materialism.

What is wrong with salvationism?

Many preach the use of Jesus' crucifixion to cleanse our sins. Is this really what Jesus promoted? That we could just go out and sin all we want and just go to church to cleanse all those sins away?

That is not what Jesus is suggesting with this statement. He is suggesting that this would produce sadness and mourning.

Yet many teachers proclaim there is some kind of automatic cleansing - a sort of inheritance. They teach say that "Jesus died for my sins" and celebrate the torture of his body. So instead of being sad and mourning Jesus' murder at the hands of the Romans and the Jewish high priests, this self-centered act of ritualistic cleansing has become an institution in itself.

This perversion is precisely why Jesus also said:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)
This indicates the essence of Jesus' message and what he was teaching. He wasn't teaching that people should be focused on healings and miracles. His focus wasn't empty rituals. He was asking his disciples and those who heard his teachings to simply serve the Supreme Being and assist him in his mission to serve and please God. He was asking them to do God's will.

Did Jesus teach his followers to pray?

Jesus' teachings were the opposite of self-centeredness. Jesus did teach prayer, but not praying for God to do my will. Jesus taught us to pray to God to ask Him if we can do His will. This is what Jesus also did:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
This is called love. When a person wants to do someone else's will out of their own volition (not being forced) that is coming from a place of love.

This is who we are. Beneath these temporary physical bodies, we are lovers. We are caregivers. This is our natural identity. Jesus' teachings were trying to awaken the loving spirit within each of us.

This is reflected by Jesus' teaching about prayer as well. Did Jesus' students pray as the Pharisees' followers did? No. Jesus certainly taught his students to pray, but he stipulated a condition:
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt. 6:5)
So Jesus' students certainly did pray, but they didn't pray in public as the Pharisees and their followers did. Jesus' students prayed in private, where no one but God could see them. They prayed directly to the Supreme Being.

Jesus' disciples also did observe holy days, such as Passover and others - but they didn't make a big show of it, so the Pharisees did not see it. They didn't use these holidays to announce their devotion to the public as did the Pharisees.

Jesus' teachings asked his students to focus their hearts upon the Supreme Being. He wanted his students to sincerely love the Supreme Being. He was not pleased with showmanship, and we can see this with Jesus' own manner of prayer:
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone (Matt. 14:23)
Jesus practiced what he preached. He prayed to the Supreme Being in private. Prayer wasn't about showmanship to Jesus. It was about love. About devotion to the Supreme Being.

This is the core element of Jesus' teachings:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27)