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Mercy Not Sacrifice

Matthew 9:9-13

Jesus’ words here are so cutting; exposing the depth of human’s sinful nature … PRIDE. To examine further, I went to the source of Jesus’ reference to Hosea 6. For as Adam (Hos 6:6-7), we have all rebelled and like sheep have gone astray (Isa 53:6). In context, the prophet Hosea is rebuking the northern kingdom of Israel for unfaithfulness and ‘prostituting’ themselves to other gods (namely Canaanite gods). He is calling them to repentance and to return to God (the liking of which Hosea knew personally due to God’s instruction to marry a prostitute, Homer, in chapters 1-3). I believe Jesus brought this passage up in order to remind the Pharisees that they too, like their ancestors, had been unfaithful to God, in this case their unfaithfulness of heart. The Pharisees would have certainly known this passage in Hosea and the clear call to the unfaithful people of God to turn back in repentance. No wonder people wanted to kill Jesus, he is emphatically calling the most religious people of his day spiritual adulterers! I think this passage (Mat 9) is especially meaningful for me as an ambassador of Christ, living in a place where religion is so popular and commonplace, indeed apart of the very culture. For Jesus tells me it is the sick that need to get well, ‘not those who think they are already good enough’ (NLT). I’m sure Matthew was very appreciative of the fact (being that he was a hated ‘tax collector’) that God wanted to show mercy, and therefore produce mercy and love, instead of being worshiped in a heartless and mechanical religion. Jesus came to institute a relationship with God, in which we can cry out Abba, Father! (Rom 8) Jesus told them to ‘go and learn what this means’, and I think it would be wise of me to continually learn what this means in my life as well. Questions to ask:

  • Am I motivated and acting through mercy, or sacrifice? (Prov 16:2)

  • Am I following in Jesus’ (and Hosea’s) footsteps in calling out spiritual adultery, not matter who is the perpetrator, even if it is myself? (Is there anyone in my life to call this out?)

  • Do I see myself as ‘healthy’ or ‘sick’? (Lk 7:36-50, Lk 18:9-14)


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