June 30, 2018
Matthew 9:10-13… And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when He heard of it, He said, “Those who are ill have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous but sinners.”
I puzzled over this for a long time, until someone clarified it by saying, “He meant… “those who think they are righteous.” A study of the original language shows that Jesus spoke of self-righteousness.
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
This describes the attitude with which we ought to come to Jesus. Lately, I have caught myself singing an old song, “We bring the sacrifice of praise.” Sometime I sing a song over and over because God wants to teach me something. Today, He brought that song to mind, again. My first thought is this: praise is never a sacrifice. I have heard a number of testimonies from people telling what they sacrificed for God. Some say, “I gave up drinking alcohol.” What that means, really, is, “I gave up hangovers.” So, remind me, what is the sacrifice? There is a line in a Jason Upton song that really hits me, “This is no sacrifice… here’s my life.” That is the truth rather than, “I bring you a sacrifice of praise.” The same gauge with which we judge ourselves, we will use on others. Don’t judge the sacrifice of another; have mercy. When we consider sacrifices, we rank them according to value and difficulty. If a man’s testimony is, “I gave up a good career” we applaud, but, really, where would that career have led him? “This is no sacrifice… here’s my life.”
Jesus came to save sinners. Don’t try to hide your badness; let Jesus change you. Sacrifice invites comparison and that is ugly. I wrote a song for a play onetime… “Competition is the name of the game; somebody’s got to win, somebody’s got to lose. That’s the rule we use in competition.” Comparison is competition. There is no competition in knowing Jesus. We both need Him.