Matthew 9:13 (ESV) 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus quoted this verse twice in the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew 12:7 (ESV) 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
He spoke it to the same group of people(the Pharisees) about the same subject(condemnation of "sinners)
It is a quote of Hosea 6:6
Hosea 6:6 (ESV) 6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
For some unknown reason, I was reminded this week of a story that was told me many, many years ago by a pastor that concerned another pastor.It seems that the denominational leaders of a very prominent denomination had decided to remove this pastor from his position because of a particular sin in his life. As his friend,the other pastor(the storyteller) went before the leaders of the denomination to plead for mercy on behalf of his fellow pastor,only to be told," to let him go to hell." Upon hearing that, both pastors left the organization and started their own separate ministries on either side of a large city. These ministries became very successful and multiplied thousands of people were brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, one of which includes the author of this blog.And herein lieth the lesson.
The Pharisees were about outward conformity in conduct and ritual.They were concerned about the "letter of the law." They seemed to be quick to judge and condemn when someone did not live up to their preconceived notion of what the law entailed. They demanded sacrifice,especially as it concerned OTHERS and not themselves. Jesus,in both cases told them to go and LEARN what that verse meant. LEARN what the knowledge of God was all about. You see brothers and sisters,the Pharisees were ignorant of the fact that the fulfillment of every jot and tittle of the law was standing right in front of them. But,more importantly, they had missed the mark altogether hadn't they? God's heart all along,even before Jesus came on the scene,even before He gave the law,His heart and nature toward His creation was one of mercy and love. God looked throughout His whole creation to find someone or something that was worthy to pay the ransom for sin. No one, NO ONE among His creation was found. He had to send His son Jesus to satisfy His justice,His anger,His wrath. But,the Pharisees in their SELF righteousness believed they had the formula. Outward conformity. Say the right things. Act the right way.Ya feelin' me here?
Folks,let me tell you something. I have been saved since October 8,1975. What is that? let's see here.........upwards of forty two years,is that right? Yes that's right forty two years that I have named the name of Christ. In all that time. Every single day and month of those forty two years I have NEVER...I will say it again.....I HAVE NEVER had to be told when I was sinning. On every single occasion I KNEW,WITHOUT A DOUBT, that I had missed the mark. I had transgressed. I had SINNED...... EVERY SINGLE TIME WITHOUT DOUBT!!!
What I needed was not for someone to tell me that I had sinned,no,no, what I needed was for someone to tell how to GET OUT of my sin! How to be released and delivered from my bondage, NOT to be shackled even more with condemnation and guilt based upon someone's self righteous standard.
Someone will say "Yes, but you need to be told the truth." I HAVE BEEN TOLD THE TRUTH!HIS NAME IS JESUS!!THERE IS NO OTHER TRUTH!!!
Brothers and sisters, if we have named the name of Jesus,then we are all somewhere on the road to final redemption. Sometimes,during our journey on that road,we, like the Pharisees before us, begin to think that we know more than God don't we?Huh? Oh yes. We begin to demand of those on the same road that we are traveling, to CONFORM to a preconceived standard that WE have set. Expecting someone to live up to something that we ourselves can't live. Forgetting where WE came from and how WE were delivered from OUR sin.By the mercy and grace of God Almighty, through His Son,the Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters,we can LEARN about the knowledge and mercy of God if we will PRACTICE that same mercy towards other people. Especially those of the household of faith. Let God deal with the sin and the sinner.Unlike ours,His discipline is just and and always produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness in us. Our ONLY job,it seems to me,is to point them AND OURSELVES to the forgiveness and mercy found in the Lord JESUS. AMEN? AMEN!!
Psalm 51:1 (ESV) 1