“Mercy, Not Sacrifice”
November 2, 2016
The fleeting beauty of Autumn!
I passed this stretch of highway yesterday on a drive through southern Lebanon County.
“Mercy, Not Sacrifice”
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“Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners'” (Matthew 9:12-13).
Yesterday I had my annual physical and saw my long-time doctor, Michael Green. When I first started seeing him about twelve years ago I was in my late 40’s. At that time I recall looking around the waiting area and seeing mostly older people. I asked him if I was in the right place and he assured me that I was. During my visit yesterday I didn’t even notice the older people since I fit in just fine!
We don’t know a lot about doctors or medical practices in the Bible times. Luke is described as a physician and in another place Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for twelve years who had been treated by many doctors.
We normally think of going to a doctor when we are sick, which was also the reasoning at the time of Christ. In our daily text Jesus said as much when he told his listeners, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” In our day we also go for a preventive type examination when we are healthy. My first experience with this type of doctoring was during high school when I was required to have a physical for sports.
The Great Physician practiced what He preached when He went about the region recruiting those whose sin sick souls were diseased. In Matthew 9 Jesus sought out Matthew at a tax collector’s booth and said to him, “Follow me” (v.9). Right after this he had a meal in Matthew’s house where “many tax collectors and sinners” joined them (v.10). This was especially an affront to the proud Pharisees who represented the “holier than thou” attitude of their day. This greatly distressed them and they asked the disciples concerning Jesus, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” (v.11).
“Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” At first glance it may appear that Jesus is saying it is not the healthy Pharisees who need a doctor but the sick (the tax collectors and sinners). But Jesus doesn’t stop here. He challenges their thinking, “But go and learn what this means.” He didn’t elaborate but wanted them to learn as they considered what he was about to say.
His answer is contained in the simple phrase: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Here Jesus was actually quoting the Old Testament prophet Hosea, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
Jesus ended the exchange by stating, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”. Indeed the pursuit of His righteousness begins when we acknowledge (confess) we are sinners and repent. Each of us is born into sin and must make a willful choice to be saved by God’s grace.
Jesus was calling attention to the fact that the Pharisees, who relied upon religious rituals to make themselves righteous before God, (“sacrifices and burnt offerings”) are actually missing the mercy and knowledge of God Himself. They did not realize that, in fact, they were the ones sick in spirit and desperately in need of the Master Healer’s touch.
And so, let us join with that same Old Testament prophet Hosea in affirming: “Let us know the Lord, let us press on to know Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear, He will come to us…” (Hosea 6:3).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Heavenly Father, You extend mercy to the downtrodden, to those rejected by society, and to all who realize their need for a Savior. You sent Jesus to earth not just to mingle and fellowship with the chosen few, but to call out those who acknowledge their souls are diseased and the only hope they have for spiritual healing is experienced by salvation through Christ Jesus. He is the Great Physician who can make us every whit whole. We want to press on to know Him more fully and bring along as many as we can to meet the Healer of our soul. Amen.
“Sinner Saved By Grace” Video Gaither Vocal Band
“The Touch Of The Master’s Hand” Video Wayne Watson A great illustration using the sale of an old tattered and torn violin!
“I Can Trust Jesus” Video The Collingsworth Family
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