Posted By Nan

Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus travelled through Judah he called people to call him. He even called a tax collector. It is interesting to note that even the tax collector followed Jesus when called. Fishermen could be seen as decent ‘salt of the earth’ people, but tax collectors were not seen as decent people. Tax collectors were known to demand extra tax from people. This extra money would be kept from the Roman government and pocketed by the tax collectors so they were often rich. On this occasion Matthew not only obediently answered Jesus’ call to follow, he also left his lucrative money making job to follow Jesus.
Such was Jesus’ attraction to people that Matthew hosted a dinner at his house and invited fellow tax collectors and others considered sinful by the Pharisees. In those days the Pharisees decreed that those who were sinners were to be avoided as though their sinfulness was contagious. Yet here was Jesus eating a meal with tax collectors and other sinners. This was too much for the Pharisees.
Jesus said I desire mercy (that is, a readiness to help, spare and forgive those in trouble), not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. This takes us back to Cain and Abel offering their first fruits sacrifices to God (Genesis 4). No amount of sacrifice could cover Cain’s lack of mercy. In Jesus day, no amount of sacrifice could cover the lack of mercy of the Pharisees. As far as Jesus was concerned, the Pharisees condemned the guiltless.
Jesus came to call the sinners, not the righteous. The genuinely righteous would be following Jesus anyway. The sinners were willing to answer His call. The ones who believed they were righteous were too busy believing in that righteousness to hear Jesus’ call, let alone follow Him.
There are three places in the Bible where you will find the words I desire mercy not sacrifice. There is Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 and Hosea 6:6. In Hosea 6:6 God states He desires and delights in dutiful and steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings. So Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He wanted to see love and goodness from those who took the time to know God. His charges against the Pharisees were that they did not take the time to know God. It is easy to get caught up in the doctrine of a Christian church and forget that believing in Jesus is not about legalism and strict adherence to doctrine. It is about loving God, Jesus and your fellow humans. And it is about knowing God. It is so easy, especially in this fast paced world, to forget to take the time to surrender yourself to God. To surrender your time and your desires and just be with God. To allow God’s love for all to govern your behaviour, rather than your own desires. Rather than focusing on rules and harsh adherence to them, focus on God and loving Him and those He loves.

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