Mercy and Not Sacrifice? #6

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7,8 KJV).

What did our Lord mean in today’s Scripture?

When Christ’s hungry disciples pick corn and eat it, the Pharisees become angry and complain that they have broken the Sabbath-day ordinance.

In verses 3-5, Christ wisely argued that although the shewbread was only meant for the priests to eat, David and his men were hungry and thus permitted to consume it (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Also, He argued, Moses—the Pharisees’ idol—said work on the Sabbath was acceptable if not working caused one to disobey other laws of God.

For instance, Israel’s priests had to perform Tabernacle and Temple duties, even on the Sabbath day. Another example is that the Jewish male baby had to be physically circumcised on the eighth day, even on the Sabbath day, or God wanted nothing to do with him (Genesis 17:10-14; Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22,23). A final example is that the Law commanded Jews to rescue their neighbors’ livestock trapped under burdens or fallen into pits, even on the Sabbath day (Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 22:4; Matthew 12:11,12; Luke 14:5; cf. Luke 13:15,16).

Israel’s spiritual condition during Jesus’s day is obvious. Satan, via vain religious tradition, has the Jews keeping laws for laws’ sakes! There is no faith in the Word of God; it is just mindless ceremonies, rites, and rituals. The same is true for much of Christendom today! There is no real hunger for souls and sound Bible doctrine; the emphasis is on experiences, entertainment, ceremonies, and regulations.

Whenever Jesus Christ healed the sick on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees were there forbidding it and criticizing Him. They would rather let sick people suffer than for Jesus to heal them on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:1-6; John 5:8-13; John 7:22,23). Jesus addressed their cruelty by telling them, I will have mercy” (today’s Scripture). He addressed their faithless religious performance by telling them, I will… not [have] sacrifice” (today’s Scripture). The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus meant anyway, for they were too blinded by sin and religious tradition….