mercy, not sacrifice

Recent travels (the past four weeks, and I’m still not home) have prevented me from sharing with you guys what I’ve been learning from God lately.  I’ve got so much to share, but it seems that most of what’s on my mind would be better suited for a couple of series than for individual posts.  And, seeing that I’m still in the middle of a series (or of a long break from a series) on famous exchanges in the Bible (see adam and eve and/or jacob and esau), I’m not ready to begin work on another one.  But I do miss putting into words (or attempting to) what God has been teaching me during my studies.

And I’ve missed being on the blog.  I apologize for my month-long absence and thank you guys for still hanging around (many of you patiently, even).  I really appreciate the little community we’ve got here, and I’ve missed you all.

Today, I offer you just a small portion of one of my 3-column studies from Matthew 9. [To learn what a 3-column bible study is, read this and be blessed by it]:

As Jesus turned the corner, he saw a corrupt police officer named Matayo.  “Follow me,” he told him.  And Matayo got up and followed him.

While Jesus and Matayo were sharing a meal of ugali and mchicha (cooked by Mrs. Matayo and her oldest daughters), they were joined by many corrupt police officers, cheating businessmen, and sinners.  When Christians from a nearby church saw this, they demanded of Jesus’ followers, “Why does your teacher eat with corrupt policemen and greedy sinners?  What kind of moral teacher would do that?!”

On (over)hear(ing) this, Jesus said, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  You guys have really got to go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  Thoughts?



Filed under just thinking, modern-day retelling, musings on the Word

6 responses to “mercy, not sacrifice

  1. I’m not entirely clear if when Jesus says “sacrifice” he’s referring to religious rituals. The sentence about desiring mercy not sacrifice seems contradictory because Jesus was all about servitude and self-sacrifice, which makes me think he was referencing something else.

    • i’m going with the religious rituals myself. and indeed JC was about all kinds of self-sacrifice — in order to show mercy to others. i wonder if part of the point isn’t that it’s easy to go through with rituals (of sacrifice and the like) without actually sacrificing of yourself. motions require no life change or love towards another…

  2. Jen

    Hmmm….this is good to think about. Since at that time most observant jewish men knew the scriptures by heart, teachers often employed saying a sentence from the scriptures to call to reference a whole meaning. Chapters and verses did not exist, so how they knew portions of scripture was through a familiar text. I went to Hosea 6 and read a ways to try and figure out what Jesus was saying to these guys that would have know the whole passage. It seems He might be saying that the “religious” are rarely earnestly seeking Him or repentant. That is what God desires…our heart. By using this passage with the pharisees, it seems Jesus is likening them to faithless Israel….to those that do not earnesty see Him. Just some random thoughts…My guess though, is by Jesus employing that piece of scripture, the pharisees knew exactly what he was “admonishing” them about, and it hacked them off. Their hearts were not in a place to “acknowledge their guilt and earnestly seek Him”…..hos 5:16

    Glad you are back, giving us deep stuff to ponder. Take care!

    • thanks, jen, for the welcome back. and also for the comments. here lately, i’ve begun to see this “i desire mercy and not sacrifice” idea as the theme of matthew. JC brings it up again a few chapters later when he’s explaining how his way brings rest to his followers, while the pharisees way (following a legalistic system of rituals) makes us tired. and then he adds that he shares a yoke with us, while the pharisees aren’t willing to lift a finger to help their followers.

      and your comments about the hebrew scriptures having been known well by these guys are very true. they make me want to know my o.t. better. [and the emphasis of my masters was old testament prophecy… — though i wish i’d taken it more seriously at the time.]

  3. My response may have come a bit late and you may have moved on from this topic but, here it goes anyway:
    The book of Malachi really helped me to understand failed sacrifice. It talks about the priests offering blemished sacrifices to God. While God demanded that the sacrifices be pure without mark, the people were bringing lame lambs, etc. which in turn the priests were accepting for sacrifice.
    God mourned the days of the priests like Aaron. When they saw the presence of God they fell on their faces in fear and awe in respect for Him. That fear and awe were gone, replaced by apathy and even resentment of their position as a priest. They complained that they had to deal daily with death, not realizing that the exact thing they were doing was the ushering in of life.
    Jen is right that God desires the act of our sacrifice to come from our hearts. From love for God. Ultimately, it was the unblemished sacrifice of Jesus Christ that God desired. The Tabernacle was simply a shadow of the things to come in Christ.
    Remember the woman who gave all she had in the offering while the Pharisees made a show of all they had to give? They were making an offering for all the people to see, she made the offering out of the love in her heart for God.
    When Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, he brought in what Ezekiel said about God replacing our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and putting within us a new spirit, that no man would need another to teach him the things of God because God would teach each one individually. His Spirit would be given to use as our guide.
    When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they had a personal relationship with God. They walked with Him until sin place that barrier between them. We know that slowly through the passing of time that barrier just grew bigger and bigger. The priests were there partially to bring us into a closer relationship with God. God desires to be near us (that is so exciting to me!), to be with His people. His desire also was never in the sacrifice of animals, but in the sacrifice of Christ who would tear down the barrier between us so we can have a similar intimacy with God like the one He shared with Adam and Eve.
    Jesus also showed us how to obey God. Obedience is a must. Okay, that is another subject and if I get started on that, this will be even longer, they do tie in together though.
    The priests focus was in their own lusts (desires), they kinda wanted to be god in a way. Jesus came for the hurting people who had hearts that would turn to Him because of His love for them all because He desires to be close to us (makes me smile every time I think about it!).
    There you are. I will leave it at that. I hope it didn’t stray too far from your original question and I apologize for the length of it. Way too much coffee and time this morning!

    • mk, i’ve not been keeping up well with the blog and with comments lately. so this one went unseen for several days. thanks for commenting though — and for reminding me of malachi.

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