June 6, 2016
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
If Jesus told you to “go and learn what this means,” I bet you would do it.
So have you?
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” What does it mean? Jesus will come back around to these very words again in chapter twelve. In between now and then Jesus will show us what it means. The Tax Collector story opens the door. Note, however, this is not just one tax collector we are talking about.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.
Get this straight. Jesus not only called a person who we would consider a Nazi sympathizer, but he went to his house for dinner where many more tax collectors and sinners joined them. This is so far afield of what the respectable, God fearing, church going citizens (like us) would have imagined it borders on absurd.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The word “sacrifice” was a code word that signaled the whole religious enterprise of the Temple and the way “righteousness” worked. People offered sacrifices for their sins and they were deemed righteous. It had become a big religious system. Offering a sacrifice didn’t necessarily make one well, but it did make them “righteous.” The whole “sacrifice,” a.k.a. Temple enterprise had become devoid of mercy. It’s profoundly ironic—the one place on earth intended to dispense the very mercy of God had been reduced to a “form of religion without the power.” After all, why didn’t this paralyzed man’s friends take him to the Temple? Here’s why: the lights were on but no-one was at home.
They took their friend to the real Temple of God—Jesus—the Doctor of Mercy who would himself become the “sacrifice.” Roll that idea around in your mind for a bit today.
Does this sound like some of our churches these days—maintaining the system while managing to be about everything but the mercy of salvation? How about our lives? Have we come to grips with the fact that we are the “sinners” he came to call? Or do we think that means “those people?”
1. So what do you think? What does it mean? I desire mercy not sacrifice.
2. Does this sound like some of our churches these days—maintaining the system while managing to be about everything but the mercy of salvation?
3. What about you, are you maintaining a “form of religion” while your life denies the real power power of it all? Be brutally honest with yourself.
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.