Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do you get it yet?




Scripture

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:13 NASB)

 

Observation


Jesus is speaking to the religious rulers who believe that they have their act together spiritually. They have been doing everything that they can to follow the letter of the law, but in their hearts they are harsh and stubborn people. They have been studying the scriptures their entire lives and can quote long passages of scripture. That is why Jesus responds the way that he does. He tells them to go and learn what a particular passage means and then he quotes from Hosea 6:6. These people would have studied the scriptures growing up and they should have already known this verse which says that God values compassion, steadfast love, or mercy more than sacrifices. That is, Jesus is much more concerned about the state of their heart, rather than a strict enforcement of the law. The love of God should have been flowing out of them but instead they showed perfunctory service to God through the giving of sacrifices. But what does it mean to give sacrifices, if your heart is not right? Jesus knows that they do not truly understand this scripture and that's why he tells them to go and learn it, for they will only learn it by putting it into practice in their own lives. Jesus' final statement is to let them know that he is not going to focus all of his time and energy on them because he didn't come to call the righteous (or at least those who are so worried with proving that they are) but instead is going to go and work among the sinners. The problem was, they just didn't get it!

 

Application

The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we get it or not!? Where do we fit in this story? Are we like those who have had the privilege of being raised with the gospel? Were we one of those Bible Quizzers who memorized long passages of Scripture? Jesus is saying that all of that is fine, but that he doesn't want our long list of "things" that we have done for him, but instead he wants mercy. Really the two words become two sides of a coin which ought to go together. It is when they become separated that we have a problem. When people believe that giving sacrifices alone is enough to please God, then we have a problem. However, if on one side of the coin we find the person who understands mercy, then the result will be sacrifice but out of a pure heart with right motivation. This is what Jesus desires because he understands that mercy (love, compassion) really reveals the nature of God. It is only when our hearts are opened to God and we allow his nature to pour into us that we are transformed from the inside out. Then, our lives reveal his nature and in the end we do sacrifice. The religious folks were trying to do the work from the outside in. They seemed to believe that if they followed the rules on the outside, if they offered enough sacrifices that somehow holiness would make its way in. Jesus knew their hearts and he knew that they just didn't get it.

But I ask the question of myself today; Do I get it? I have been raised in the church, raised to be a good girl and to serve God, but God doesn't desire my service to him -- he desires my heart. God doesn't care about all the "things" we can do for him, he wants us to fall in love with him. God doesn't want us to be so busy that we are running out the door to do "things" for him everyday, if we never sit down and just spend time with him, getting to know him, allowing ourselves to fall in love with him, and relish in the intimacy of his holy presence. Jesus told the religious folk -- you don't get it! Go out and REALLY learn what the scriptures you have memorized are talking about, and then there will be the "aha" moment where you finally do get it and you realize that all he wants is you. Does he have it?

 

Prayer


Lord, thank you for your patience with us, because sometimes we are slow at "getting it." Amen.

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