Matthew 9:10-13 – While he was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Yeshua and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? ” Now when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Clearly, Yeshua had a different view of those who were in need of hearing the good news of the kingdom, and who were also willing to listen. In his response, Yeshua tells the Pharisees to “go and learn what this means.” The “this” he speaks of here is a quote from Hosea 6.
Hosea 6:6 – For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
In this passage of Hosea, God is expressing his frustration with all of the tribes, and how their passion for him was only as a “morning mist” or “a dew that vanishes.” Their constant rebellion was only ritual-deep; whenever they transgressed, they assumed all they would have to do was to present the appropriate offering to get back into God’s good graces. Yet God says that what he truly desires is mercy (faithful love) and the knowledge of God over any sacrifices and offerings.
Yeshua tells the Pharisees to “go and learn what this means.” They were just as guilty of the shallow, ritual-deep commitment to Yahweh, when he really desired them to share their knowledge of God and faithful love and mercy with those who were in need of it most.
True compassion or mercy is in sharing with those who have nothing for themselves, whether worldly goods or spiritual sophistication. The message of the kingdom of God is not for an elite population only but for all people everywhere. True compassion and mercy is in providing the thirsty the water they are looking for, the food they are hungry for, and the peace that they so desperately long for.
I believe the example of Yeshua cautions us from focusing so strongly on our personal righteousness before God that we exclude the very individuals he is wanting us to reach for him.
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