THE WORDS OF JESUS
Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 39
“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice”
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. ’For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 9:12-13
Next to the Great Commission, issued by Jesus before His ascension, (Matthew 28:18-20), this is Jesus’ greatest call and model for witnessing and evangelism.
Jesus is clearly saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Jesus is the great Physician).
(“Sick” from the Greek, kakos, means to be amiss, badly, grievously; bad or evil, in the widest sense. “Inner malice”; inwardly foul, rotten (poisoned); inner malice flowing out of a morally-rotten character, (the “rot is already in the wood”), meaning, “wickedness, inner evil.”
Many illnesses and diseases can be traced to their origins of “kakos”. This sickness can and does manifest as physical and mental illnesses if left spiritually untreated.
However, the postmodern church has increasingly turned inward, ministering almost exclusively to those claiming to already be righteous, rather than ‘going out and making disciples.”
JESUS GOES TO THOSE WHO WERE ‘SICK’
Jesus went about all the towns, cities and countryside preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (See Matthew 4:23-25)
JESUS SENDS HIS DISCIPLES TO THOSE WHO WERE ‘SICK’
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
In the middle of His instructions, Jesus says, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
In these few words, Jesus condemns the religious humanism and false ritual piety being practiced in so many churches and synagogues.
Hosea 6:6 reads, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, knowing God rather than burnt offerings.” Why does God desire love and knowledge of Him instead of burnt offerings? The key to answering this question is found in the words of the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD, is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Love for God was the number-one priority for the people of Israel. The whole Law, including the offerings and sacrifices, was to serve as an expression of this love for the Lord.
However, over time, the Israelites began to worship other gods while continuing the ritual of the sacrifices. They “obeyed the Law,” yet they did not display love toward God, and they did not truly know Him. Hosea’s message was a response to Israel’s hypocrisy. God desired their love over external practices of piety. He longed for His people to long for Him rather than simply continue a religious tradition.
Scripture often notes that sacrifices to God are incomplete and even offensive without a changed heart that loves and knows the Lord. First Samuel 15:22 says, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (See also Isaiah 1:11-17; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8 and Matthew 7:21-23.) The same is said of other religious rituals, such as circumcision (Romans 2:28-29).
Jesus would later use Hosea’s teaching against the hypocritical Pharisees, saying, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13; cf. 12:7). Without a loving relationship with God, all the rituals in the world couldn’t help the Pharisees. (GotQuestions.Org)
JOB’S RELIGIOUS PIETY
Like in the case of Job, who was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil, and was the greatest of all the people of the east,” Job’s practice of religious piety did not save him.
His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus, Job did continually.”
Then one day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (See Job chapter 1).
WHERE ARE YOU?
Many religious people participate in Christian rituals, yet their hearts do not love God and seek to know Him. Those who practice empty rituals should heed Hosea’s words. God cares more about our heart’s love for Him than the things that we do in His name. We must not substitute religious traditions for a relationship with God. Let’s pray that we may never be like those whom Jesus described: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). (GotQuestions.Org)
JESUS IS CALLING YOU
Finally, Jesus says, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” This is your calling also.
- There are some things Jesus told us to BE.
- There are some things He told us to HAVE.
- Then, there are the things He told us to DO. Please don’t be confused, they are not the same thing.
What we are told to BE and what we are told to HAVE should lead us to DO the things He told us to DO.
YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY. (The indwelling Christ makes us holy. It is not something we can DO on our own.)
You shall BE My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” (The indwelling Holy Spirit makes us witnesses. It is not something we can DO on our own.)
HAVE faith and Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. (When Jesus is the object of our faith, it is Jesus who does these works through us. It is not something we can DO on our own.)
FOLLOW ME and I will make you fishers of men. (Now, this is something we DO when we are drawn to the living God. This is something we can and must DO.)
If you DO these things, you shall never fall; give diligence to make your calling and election sure: (This is something we DO when we are drawn to the living God. This is something we must DO.)
Jesus is asking, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not DO what I tell you?
I talk with so many Christians who resist witnessing Jesus to others. They have their excuses, and they say they have ‘alternate ways’ of witnessing, but they are not doing what Jesus has told them to do!
Here is what Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you”.
Again, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses (martus = martyr), both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
We call on the name of the Lord in prayer, making many requests which have little to do with what He requires of His disciples. Yet, He is faithful.
You ask God for something and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives or out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda, so that when you get what you want you may spend it on your selfish desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
He has told us He will provide all we need as we first seek Him and His Kingdom. He has told us we have overcome this world. Yet, we desire, even crave the things of this world, so we straddle the fences of earthly desires and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Many make excuses, but few have reasons. One day all of us will be called to explain why we called Him “Lord, Lord, but did not do what He has told us”.
Dear Loved Ones, listen to me. Those who are well have no need of a physician. Bring Me those who are sick.
Now, go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. ’For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
My enduring love to you. – Jesus.
Your Brother and Friend,
NEXT: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? , “And then they will fast”, Part 40.