Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
On every occasion when a person came to Jesus with a great need, He always showed them mercy. We see this vividly illustrated with the woman caught in the act of adultery, in John 8:3-11. Though the law clearly called for her and the man to be stoned to death, Jesus drove away all her accusers and showed great mercy to her.
When the two blind men, in Matthew 9:27-30, asked Jesus for mercy, He touched their eyes and restored their sight.
Jesus constantly reminded the Scribes and the Pharisees that the heart of God’s law was mercy. Even when His own disciples broke the law of the Sabbath and harvested grain as they walked through a wheat field, Jesus did not condemn them, since their need for mercy was greater than the law.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice…
Jesus never lowered the requirements of the Law of God, He showed us what its true purpose was. All of God’s law was designed to benefit man and be a blessing, not to prevent us from obtaining the necessities of our life. If you have a need, you can be confident that Jesus is able to meet that requirement. If you have sinned and feel that you cannot possibly be forgiven, Jesus will forgive you. The forgiveness that He offers is not a temporary relief from guilt but a total cleaning of the conscience and absolute peace for the soul.
In the future earthly kingdom in which Jesus will rule, no one will hurt or kill anyone ever again. There will be universal justice, fairness and righteousness over the whole earth. Jesus’ authority will be absolute and final, and no one will have the ability to take peace or righteousness from the earth ever again.
Whenever the Rabbis were teaching their students and it was apparent that a student was missing the true meaning of a verse, the Rabbi would say: “Go and learn.” What he meant by this was that the student needed further study to gain the true intent of that particular scripture. Jesus may have been a little sarcastic in His remarks to the Pharisees who were often void of all understanding when it came to the word of God and how to rightly apply it to a given situation.
Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
In the Hebrew language, mercy is hesed, which is “love by covenant.” It is a love which is exercised in the real and practical terms of action towards another person. If someone is hungry, mercy is shown to that person and we give them food. Unlike the Pharisaical law of the Sabbath, no matter what day it is, a hungry person is given food. A person caught in a terrible abusive marriage does not need the pastor’s recitation of the divorce and adultery clause of the law; that person needs mercy. A woman caught in the act of adultery, with a large group of stone throwing angry men, does not need a lecture on adultery. Someone needs to save her from the horde who is seeking to take her life. After the mob is gone, Jesus tells the woman that she is not to sin in this regard again.
This verse that Jesus quotes from, in Matthew 9:13 above, was spoken by the prophet Hosea (6:6). It was addressed to those who were pretending to love God by rituals but had no true heart in following after Him. By using this verse in the presence of the Pharisees: “Go and learn,” Jesus may have been implying that they were the very same people whom Hosea was addressing in his condemnation of the Hypocrisy of certain people during Hosea’s ministry. Those who heard Hosea’s words were like the Pharisees who were concerned with only the outward appearance and the external keeping of the law. They had neglected the more important matter: a changed heart, which should always comes first.
We can lead people closer to God by our kindness and mercy or we can push them away by our self righteousness and condemnation. What most people need during a time a distress is our mercy. Show love and be kind and you will find that people will respond to the love of God which transcends all human failure.
If you are a person who has failed during your life, in any regard, you must understand that Jesus will not add to your despair by bringing further condemnation to you. At this moment, you need mercy. At a time later when your heart has recovered, you and the Lord can take steps together to correct behavior which led to this problem. Even during that time, when you decide to end your former relationship with sins which have caused your current sorrow, Jesus will not condemn you or make you feel worse than you already do. Jesus always comes to us with great love, mercy, and understanding during our times of difficulty. He brings light to our situation which helps us see what must be done, and then He helps us make changes over time.
The Lord Jesus is very compassionate and caring and He always comes to us in tenderness and with a desire to help. Call on Him in your distress and He will lift you up, not crush your already broken spirit.
Psalms 34:18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
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