I Desire Mercy
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Matthew 9:9-13
I. In honor of Jesus, the new apostle, Matthew, who was also known as Levi, held a dinner. He invited the people he knew. They weren’t the best in Jewish society: other tax collectors and people involved in various sins.
A. Mark 2:16-17
B. The Pharisees saw these people as unclean. In their view, to associate with sinners is to taint yourself with sin.
1. What they lost sight of is that to get people out of sin, you have to associate with them in some form or fashion.
2. They also missed the fact that they were sinners themselves - Romans 2:1-3
C. The Law of Moses never said to isolate yourself from sinners. What it does say is:
1. Proverbs 1:10
2. Psalms 1:1
3. In other words, don’t put yourself in a position where you are tempted to join in the sins of others.
D. Jesus had done no wrong, but they saw it as wrong. To which Jesus responded - Matthew 9:13
1. Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6. There is a message here that the Pharisees needed to learn.
2. It is a message we need to learn as well.
II. This same message came up on a Sabbath day when the disciples, walking by a field plucked some grains to chew - Matthew 12:1-8
A. The Pharisees argued that Jesus and his disciples violated the law by picking grain on the Sabbath
1. It is true that no work was to be done on the Sabbath - Exodus 20:9-11
2. But the law also allowed for the eating of grain from a field - Deuteronomy 23:25
3. There is an apparent conflict between the two laws
B. Jesus points out that there were other similar conflicts in the Old Law
1. David’s men ate the showbread, even though they were not priests, because the men were hungry and there was no other food available.
a. The Pharisees saw this as honorable, even though Jesus pointed out that what was done was sinful
2. Jesus also points out that the priests work on the Sabbath, a seeming conflict with the law, but one the law required.
a. The priests don’t sin by following one law, when another appears to say something different.
3. If they just understood what Hosea 6:6 meant, then they would see that the disciples were no more guilty than the priests.
III. Sacrifices are necessary
A. It isn’t that God didn’t want the Jews to give sacrifices. The problem is that the Jews didn’t understand what they were for - Psalms 50:7-23
1. God doesn’t need sacrifices, men do.
2. But when the wicked offer sacrifices, they are not appeasing God.
a. The sacrifices doesn’t change them
b. All God sees are sinners trying to cover up their sins.
B. God doesn’t derive pleasure from abundant sacrifices - Isaiah 1:11-17
1. More sacrifices doesn’t produce less sin
2. God isn’t forcing men to worship Him, and He certainly can’t endure sinners worshiping Him
C. Quantity doesn’t impress God - Micah 6:6-8
1. How much you sacrifice doesn’t impress God
2. What He wants is righteousness from those who approach Him
IV. What God really wants
A. Justice and righteousness. Without these sacrifices and songs are useless - Amos 5:21-24
B. Obedience, not convenience - Jeremiah 7:21-23
C. Righteousness and justice are more important - Proverbs 21:3
D. Mercy - Hosea 6:6-8
1. God is rich in mercy - Ephesians 2:4
2. Mercy is giving someone less than what strict justice demands
E. Remember the story of the good Samaritan? - Luke 10:36-37
1. The same point is being made. The priest and the Levite kept themselves clean, but they had no compassion.
2. They used one law to excuse themselves from other laws they didn’t want to keep
V. What lesson was Jesus telling us that we need to learn?
A. Are you looking for ways to condemn people or are you trying to save people?
B. Notice what is said about Jesus - John 3:16-21
1. Sins will condemn people; in fact, because of sin we are all already condemned.
2. The reason Jesus came was not to condemn those already condemned, but to save the condemned from the consequences of their deeds.
C. The world exists and you live because God wants you saved - II Peter 3:9
D. There is no reason to remain in sin - Ezekiel 18:30-32
E. If the Pharisees were looking to show mercy, they would have seen the law wasn’t being violated in the two examples in Matthew 9 and 12.
1. They focused on demanding that all keep the law as they saw it.
2. There was no leeway, there was no mercy, even when it was found in the law.
F. So where is your focus? On the sacrifices or on mercy so as to save? - Matthew 18:23-35
1. In both cases justice demanded payment, and it was the person’s right to make the demand.
2. But God gives mercy and is looking for mercy from us.