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)