At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1-8
In just a few short verses, Jesus gave the Pharisees – and by extension those listening – a masterclass in mercy.
The Pharisees were so blinded by their narrow view of the law. They took so many precautions not to break the Sabbath that they forgot what it mean to have mercy. Of course Jesus used King David as an example of someone who broke the Sabbath, which probably infuriated them more.
As we read these accounts, we think, “Why didn’t the Pharisees get it? Why didn’t they figure out that no matter what barrier or obstacle they threw at Jesus, He would counter and win the argument? Every single time.” They didn’t get it because they were steeped in their own tunnel-like focus. The hundreds of laws they made to protect the Law actually worked against them. It gave them no leeway or wiggle room.
If we’re not careful we can put on similar blinders. Here’s what I mean.
We live in a constantly changing world. Whether we like the direction it’s going is immaterial. Sadly, morality, lawlessness, and rebellion seems to be getting worse.
But there are still plenty of opportunities to show mercy. Forget the violence and anarchy you see on the news as well as the politicians who pander or are outraged.
Millions of people are hurting.
Hundreds or thousands of people in your area are hurting.
People in your neighborhood are hurting.
They may be hiding behind their pride, not wanting to know that they’re in trouble, but they are in jeopardy nonetheless.
I daresay people reading this post are hurting.
Old Steve Camp lyrics to a “Do You Feel Their Pain” comes to mind,
Do you feel their pain
Has it touched your life
Can you taste the salt
In the tears they cry
Will you love them more
Than the hate that’s been
Will you love them back
To life again
Ministry is hard.
Working with people is hard.
You have to get close enough to be vulnerable.
And that’s hard.
If you get close enough, you can get hurt and be used, so you don’t want to be vulnerable again.
But God renews His mercy for us every day.
Every single morning a fresh helping of mercy awaits us.
Borrowing from yesterday’s devotional, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
His mercy awaits us today
And the next.
He has mercy on us so we might have mercy on others.