Mercy, Not Sacrifice [Part 1]

Are you ready for some good news?

God doesn’t care how much you sacrifice. He desires mercy, not sacrifice.

Today’s Text: “Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”” (Matthew 12:5–8, ESV)

For the past few days we have been meditating on God’s heart to meet with His people. In spite of His people’s sin and rebellion, it never was the heart of God to see how many ritualistic sacrifices He could get from His people to pay Him back for all their sin. The heart of God has always been steadfast love and mercy.

Anytime we do something wrong, the sinful heart’s response is twofold. The first thing we want to do is hide ourselves and the fact that we did it. I feel ashamed, so I don’t want to look at my sin or let anyone else see it. The second thing we want to do is make up for the wrong. “Okay, I shouldn’t have said that, but instead of acknowledging that, let’s pretend it never happened. I’ll just say a lot of kind things now and that will make it all better.”

You cannot make up for the wrong you have done to somebody. You can’t weigh your behaviors on a scale hoping that your good deeds will outweigh your misdeeds. You can’t strike somebody in violence and then, undo the violence by being gentle for two weeks or two months or two years. The only thing that ever heals and restores the relationship is forgiveness from the one who has been offended.

Jesus took the punishment for our sin and allowed us to return to right relationship with the Father. The gospel promises not just that God will not hold your sin against you, but He regards it as though you never sinned.  His mercy, not your sacrifice, brings you to His heart. And that’s the gospel!

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