Mercy Not Sacrifice

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13

The religious rulers disapproved of Jesus’ friends and company. They obviously would have never come close to touching these tax collectors and sinners let alone dining with them.

Jesus, of course, had the perfect answer, something they could not refute.

But He leaves them with this, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'”

He leaves us with those words too.

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

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Just Like That!

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9

Just like that, Matthew followed Jesus.

What did they say to each other besides the obvious?
What was it that made Matthew drop what he was doing and follow?
Did Matthew even know what it meant or would entail?

Of course we don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but the harvest and timing was definitely ripe.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people follow Jesus each day.

What goes on behind the scenes for them to follow?
People do just drop what they’re doing and follow Him.
And no, nobody really knows what following Jesus entails or what it means.

They just know that we’re tired of the life we’re living now.

They’re tired of the hurt and pain we are experiencing.
They’re tired of living this life without a support system.
They’re tired of living a life of confusion and chaos.
They’re tired of living life without a clear conscience.

As we’ll see, as a tax collector Matthew was very low in the social pecking order.

Jesus still uses the lowly as examples of His great power.

In fact, one could easily make a case that he only uses the lowly people of this world as examples of His great power.

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Still Forgiving and Healing

3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. Matthew 9:3-8

Jesus gave the leaders a choice: healing or forgiveness, neither of which were they wild about. It merely exposed their hypocrisy.

Were they envious, jealous, or just joykillers? They said Jesus was a blasphemer but that accusation melted away when the man got up and walked.

They didn’t have a solution for this paralyzed man, nor did they want someone else to do it either. They were content with tossing a few coins this man’s way if he happened to be begging by the side of the road.

Two of the major points to this passage has been that Jesus still forgives and He still heals, but rarely on our timeline and schedule.

The fact that you still have a person you’ve been praying for is significant so don’t stop praying. He wouldn’t put that person on your mind and heart if he wasn’t going to do something fabulous. 

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Our Cue

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:1-2

This is one of those passages that you don’t even have to read to know that there’s trouble at the end. Jesus knew how to push the religious leaders’ buttons because He knew how they thought. It was entirely predictable that they would become upset at his statement – and we don’t even have to read it to know that.

People, though, had faith that He could, in fact, heal others. Perhaps the man’s paralysis was a direct result of sin; we don’t know. Was he crying out to Jesus for forgiveness? We don’t know.

What we do know is that Jesus solved the eternal problem this man had, which solved the temporal problem as well.

That’s not always the case in healing, but it can be.

The older I get the more I realize that the theology of forgiveness is much more significant than I first thought.

True, the vertical forgiveness of God to man is very important, but the horizontal forgiveness of man to man is very complex. Fortunately we are not privy to those relationships and the complexities therein.

The point of this whole teaching is that a man came to Jesus and He forgave him (and healed him). That story is played out thousands of times a day, every day.

It’s also a cue for us to come humbly before Him often.

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To the Pigs They Go!

30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. Matthew 8:30-34

Let’s face it, if you were a pig farmer back then, Jesus was bad for your business. When a whole herd of pigs drown in the sea, you’d lose quite a bit of money.

The townspeople came out to see Him but only to run Him out of town. That was their world. Jesus may have performed a great miracle but they lost money that day.

I suspect, though, that they remembered this event all the days of their lives. Yes, they lost money but how did it all happen? What did this man say or do to drive the pigs into the water? This was no chance encounter for the Gadarenesites. They had just been part of a supernatural event that would be discussed in theology books henceforth. The townspeople would remain nameless, but their memory lives on.

Love Him as we do or hate him as they did, everyone who encounters Jesus remembers Him well.

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