Read Matthew 12:1-8.
I love it when Jesus gives it to the Pharisees! It’s easy to picture them, with their noses in the air and their clean robes, standing just outside the crowds that followed Jesus. Close enough to watch what he was doing, but separated enough to show their disdain and judgement.
Those Pharisees were just looking for a chance to catch Jesus and his disciples in something. They were especially alert on the Sabbath; acting like religious police, they pounced on the hungry disciples. All they did was pull some heads of grain to munch on as they walked. What’s the big deal about that?
The Pharisees were experts at making mountains out of molehills when it came to Jesus. However, they forgot they were dealing with The Word of God.
If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
“If you had known…you would not have condemned…” The words meant to cut the Pharisees cut me.
How many times have I condemned the innocent over a little thing? Built my mountain of justification without considering what God might have to say about it? Without considering what I’m doing to the innocent brother or sister?
How many times have I been that Pharisee of the Pharisees? I won’t ask about you. I’ll let you think about it yourself.
What can I do to rid myself of this hypocritical spirit? Jesus gives the answer…know what my words mean.
I realize that when I don’t just know God’s word, but know what it means, I can live by it in the way he intends. It’s not just the phrase, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”; it’s living a merciful life. Showing mercy to others. Allowing that margin of grace to draw a wayward brother or sister back into fellowship.
It’s knowing that true sacrifice is the sacrifice of a broken spirit and contrite heart. It is the sacrifice of obedience, a living sacrifice of praise. Ultimately, it’s the sacrifice of self.
This Pharisaical conviction reminds me that I need to go deep into God’s word and not just skate along the surface in self-sufficiency.
For the sake of the innocent. What does it say to you?