But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” ~Jesus of Nazareth
This utterance from Jesus in Matthew 9:13 gets a lot of mileage these days. People are fond of quoting His statement whenever they think someone is being judgmental.
Regardless of the issue, some people seem to feel that you should never have an opinion or concern about certain matters of conscience. For instance, if I say that I disagree with a particular course of action, I am arrogant and bigoted and completely out of step with the message of Jesus. Because Jesus preached love and acceptance and kindness.
Jesus certainly preached all that, and more. Of course, it is important for our understanding to view that verse in Matthew in the larger context in which Jesus spoke. He had been criticized for hanging out with “undesirables” by the self-satisfied religious leaders of the day. So, in response to their smug self-righteousness, He quoted the first half of Hosea 6:6, and told them to go read it and get a clue (loose translation!). The remainder of that verse tells us the LORD desires …the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. So, it is obvious that the Eternal One is far more concerned with us knowing Him, and acting like Him, than He is with our religious activity.
It is also important to note that Jesus quoted the prophet after mentioning that it is sick people who need a doctor, not the healthy. So, Jesus clearly knew that the people He hung out with needed help. He wasn’t trying to intimate that their lives were all happy and healthy and acceptable. He did, however, look past outward appearances and offer His love and acceptance to the broken and guilty and oppressed, because they were created in God’s image. He was aware of their need for mercy and forgiveness. He didn’t try to pretend they were OK just the way they were. He spoke to their deepest desires, to hidden places within, and offered them a more genuine and fulfilling way of existence.
The kind of people He wasn’t so eager to spend time with were those who claimed to not need forgiveness. After all, if they weren’t sick, they didn’t need a doctor.
Spiritual sickness requires a spiritual cure.... (to read the rest of this article, please click here)
The Lord led me to read out of 1 Kings 18. This chapter tells the story of when the prophets of Baal challenged Elijah as to "who is God?"; Baal or the God of Elijah. They both set up offerings and then called on their Gods to send fire upon the altar.
As I recounted how Elijah made his altar impossible to be consumed by fire (by pouring water on it, putting water trenches around it, etc) I thought of all the "impossibilities" that are even now upon many of the lives of God's people. Maybe we are in a time that God will prove Himself to every false god and false prophet.
The prophets of Baal shouted to their god, they cut themselves until blood gushed out, they pounded their chests and yet their god did nothing. But Elijah drenched his offering with water and then prayed this prayer,
"O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
Then after his prayer, fire fell and consumed his offering