Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 6:16-18, NKJV
Did you ever wonder who the hypocrites were that Jesus was talking about or why he called them hypocrites? In most cases, he was talking about the Pharisees. There were regular fast times (Leviticus 16:29-31). However, the Pharisees added two fast days God did not command. Monday and Thursday were designated to allow for public display and piety. Luke 18:9-14 even mentions these two days of fasting. The Pharisees regarded the practice of fasting as praiseworthy and appeared in the synagogues with sad looks on their faces and wearing mourning garb. They did this to show the people that their “righteousness” and piety were far superior to everyone else.