Wednesday Word 9.25.19

Matthew 9:9-13 New International Version

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.”

 Hosea 6:6 New International Version

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

I have always wondered what Jesus meant by mercy and sacrifice. He told his disciples to go and learn what it meant. I figure that means you and me, too. So, I did what any 21st century follower would do: I Googled. That led me to the Book of Hosea. Jesus was quoting scripture. Back in the day when Hosea was written (scholars say about 725 years before Jesus was born), following the law was such a priority, but the people just didn’t get it. For the people of Israel, sacrifice was a way of paying tribute to God. It was a price to be paid out of gratitude or out of remorse. It was a required ritual to make sure they knew their place in the scheme of things. But mercy is something entirely different. Mercy comes out of compassion. Mercy is an act or an attitude of kindness, of love for our fellow human beings. It is not earned. It is tenderly and genuinely given. Mercy implies a connection, not a ritual. Mercy means love.

I am totally convinced that we are all sinners. Anyone who says they aren’t should read CS Lewis’ writings on pride. Some of our sins are more public than others, but they are real and, most of the time, we know what they are. But this passage can teach us two important things: Number One, Jesus can use you and wants you to know your own worth; Number Two and even more profound, Jesus loves you and wants you to know it. He came and became our Sacrifice, not because we were perfect, but because we are not. It is you and me that he came to show what mercy really means. It was Matthew and the others that he wanted to follow in his ways. It is you and me that he is calling out to today…something to pray about.

Your sister in Christ, Vicki