John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting (hsan oi maqhtai Iwanou kai oi Parisaioi nhsteuonte). The periphrastic imperfect, so common in Mark's vivid description. Probably Levi's feast happened on one of the weekly fast-days (second and fifth days of the week for the stricter Jews). So there was a clash of standpoints. The disciples of John sided with the Pharisees in the Jewish ceremonial ritualistic observances. John was still a prisoner in Machaerus. John was more of an ascetic than Jesus ( Matthew 18:1 ; Luke 7:33-35 ), but neither one pleased all the popular critics. These learners (maqhtai) or disciples of John had missed the spirit of their leader when they here lined up with the Pharisees against Jesus. But there was no real congeniality between the formalism of the Pharisees and the asceticism of John the Baptist. The Pharisees hated John who had denounced them as broods of vipers. Here the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees (oi maqhtai Iwanou kai oi maqhtai twn Parisaiwn) join in criticizing Jesus and his disciples. Later we shall see Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, who bitterly detested each other, making com- mon cause against Jesus Christ. So today we find various hostile groups combining against our Lord and Saviour. See on Matthew 9:14-17 for comments. Matthew has here followed Mark closely.