Matthew 9:13, 12:7, and Hosea 6;6.” I desire mercy, not sacrifice..”
In Matthew chapter 9, Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector to follow him, and the Pharisees are confused and angered. They question the other’s and simply state if this is such a religious man, why would he dine with tax collectors and sinner? It was a cognitive and cultural issue for them. In those days, the religious, the healthy, the pure simply did not associate with those types. However, Jesus overhears these comments and responds directly to the Pharisees with “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice”.
Jesus was directing the Pharisees to go and read their own script. He was referring to Hosea 6;6 where the Israelites were pleading with God once again. They had fallen from their walk and obedience to the Lord and were pleading for his mercy and grace; a pattern we see over an over again through the Old Testament. The Lord responds with “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.” The Lord is trying to get them to see that its a Heart issue they have. If they would change their heart, sin would no longer follow. Instead they continue to rely on the religious practices and fail to actually purify themselves…destined for another fall.
Jesus repeats this teaching a few chapters later in Matthew 12:7, where the Pharisees are once again are rebuking Jesus and his disciples for collecting grain on the Sabbath. Jesus refers back to Hosea 6;6 “I desire mercy not sacrifice” and then explains that if they knew and understood their own scripture they would not be condemning the innocent right now. Once again, pointing to their blindness and arrogance due to their religious fervor instead of wisdom gained through their love of God.
So the point I am driving at by describing these scenes is this; God’s desire is for our hearts to change. He’s desire is for mercy not sacrifice..His desire is for us to not focus on religious practices and laws, but on loving Him. By loving him our hearts will change and so will actions. This will draw us in a closer walk with the Lord, and our old ways will fall away and we will stop trying to “patch” our relationship with God through religious “sacrifices”, and just Love HIM. Simply put; God is love and He made us in His image..so go out and show the Love of Christ in your life.