But when he [Jesus] heard it, he said, “Those who are well 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.” Matthew 9:12-13
In speaking this to the Pharisees, Jesus is fully aware that all of us are sick apart from Him. The difference is the Pharisees didn’t know it. In their minds, they had nailed the whole righteous religious thing. Jesus tells them to go and hear the meaning of these Scriptures they love and know so well, specifically pointing them to Hosea 6:6, ”I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”
In Hosea’s time, the Jewish people were going through the motions. They were offering sacrifices religiously. But they were far from God. They had no love; no mercy. These Pharisees would know Hosea by heart as Jesus quotes it.
Bound up in their religious ritual and favored social status, the Pharisees had no love; no mercy. Only rigid laws and judgment.
On the outside, the Pharisees looked perfect. Inside, their heart was hard.
On the outside, Matthew, the sinner at the tax collector booth, looked hopeless. Inside, his heart was open. He immediately follows Jesus and wants his friends to do the same.
Substance vs. show; Mercy vs. more religion; Grace vs. guilt; Love vs. lists.
Jesus invites sinners to His table. Not to judge or condemn or lecture or have their bad behavior rub off on Him, but to love in order to save. And at this table, the invited find healing, life, hope. As they get up from this table, they desire nearness to God, obedience, a life that bears good fruit, and for their friends to join them at the table.
Questions: What do you think it means to someone to have a person love them in their mess? Why do you think love and relationships are so important to people seeing and knowing Jesus? How can we display this in our lives?