Matthew 9

11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
13 (Jesus said to the Pharisees) “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”


Jesus has just called Matthew, the tax collector, to be His disciple.
They go back to Matthews house and have a party with Matthews friends.
The Pharisees question Jesus about this.
Jesus doesn’t wait for His disciples to answer the question.
Jesus answers them Himself.
Jesus says the sinners are, in fact, exactly who He came for.
Jesus also gives the Pharisees what they would see as a demeaning request:
““Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ “


If Jesus says to “go and learn” something, then I should probably learn that something.
And if He says that He “desires” it, then I should definitely learn it!
First of all, this request of the Pharisees must have been highly insulting.
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice” is a direct quote from Hosea.
Of course the Pharisees “knew” this … they had every word memorized!
But did they know what it “means”?
There is a big difference from “memorizing” something and “knowing what it means”!
What am I doing with God’s Word?
“Memorizing” it? Or “knowing its meaning”?
So, Jesus desires “mercy” and not “sacrifice”.
What is “mercy”? To not dole out the proper punishment for a true violation.
Like a guilty criminal would plead for “mercy” before a judge.
And what is “sacrifice”? Well, I often think of it as “giving up something” or “going without”.
But “sacrifice” for the Pharisees was all about “religious ritual”.
Jesus was saying He cared WAY more about how I treat people than how I treat a policy.
Jesus cares way more about how I treat a relationship than how I treat a ritual.
Jesus even later said, “Who wouldn’t rescue an ox in a ditch even on the sabbath.”
So, what are the “religious rituals” in my life? The “sacrifices”?
And where am I tempted to lack “mercy”?
So I “go to church” and “sing praise” to the Lord, but then what is that worth if I then go to lunch afterward and complain about not being served well and then leave a cheap tip!
Jesus desires mercy, not religious acts.
Do I go “journal group” and then ignore people at my work who are hurting?
Jesus desires mercy, not religious acts.
Do I go to “small group” and then not follow up with others about the things they’ve requested prayer for?
Jesus desires mercy, not religious acts.
Do I “pray before meals” and then spend that meal gossiping?
I need to remember … “mercy, not ritual”.
Would I rather engage in a Hebrew word study or an honest conversation with a neighbor?
Would I rather memorize the beatitudes … or actually live them out?!
I’m having an uncomfortable realization …
The longer people are Christians, the more they want to be theologians and the less they want to be disciples.
A book is easier to engage with than people.
I can memorize, but do I know meaning?
Religious ritual knows laws.
Mercy knows names.


Thank you God for Your Word.
Thank you that it is alive.
It is the Living Word.
I can have relationship with it, and be changed and learn the meaning of relationship with others.
Help me show mercy, Holy Spirit.
Help me never prioritize ritual over relationship.
In Jesus name