“I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice”

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Revealing God's Masterpiece

The Heart of the Law

Jesus told the Pharisees to go learn what God

meant when he said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7),

Jesus and his disciples had picked grain and eaten it on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Law of Moses

by working on the Sabbath. Jesus insisted he and his disciples were

innocent (the Pharisees didn’t understand the heart of God’s law).

What tie did Jesus find between the Pharisees’ use of the Law of

Moses and a lack of mercy?


Though Jesus did not actually break the law, he justified his

actions with two examples that technically did break the Law of

Moses. David ran for his life from King Saul, lied to the priest so

as not to betray his presence, then took the consecrated bread

only the priests could legally eat. Jesus refers to this incident and

makes the point clear: “[They] ate the consecrated bread—which

was not lawful for them to do” (Matthew 12:4, italics mine). Yet

the Scriptures do not condemn David and his men. Why?


 Jesus Showed Mercy


Jesus confronts their very approach to the Scriptures that cannot

value mercy (in David’s life-threatening situation) over judgment

(technically breaking the law). They didn’t understand what Jesus’

half-brother James came to realize: “Mercy triumphs over judgment”

(James 2:13).


Jesus did not negate the Law of Moses; he fulfilled it in a way

the Pharisees never could (Matthew 5:17–20). He poked a finger

in the chest of the Pharisees for missing the whole point by valuing

the technicalities of law more than the people the law was there

to serve. In Mark’s account of this encounter, Jesus said to them,

“The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the

Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 The Message).


Cultivate the Heart of Jesus


The Pharisees’ motive was not love for people, but love for

themselves. They loved the law because they used the law to feel

valuable. See, the problem is the same. Pharisees don’t see themselves

as God’s Masterpiece mercifully being restored. They see

themselves as muddied people who cleaned themselves up (or

didn’t need restoring). How do you view yourself? Does this view

lead you to value “being right” or “knowing truth,” even more

than showing compassion or mercy to a broken world Jesus wants

to restore?


Truth is Grounded in Love


After coming to faith, I became an avid Bible student and

eventually went to seminary. But because most of my sense of

worth or value still came from “being smart” or “being good”

at whatever I was doing, my knowledge and use of Scripture

was about me. I used it to prove myself smart or right. When

I started teaching, I subtly slid into phariseeism. My love for

truth was more about proving myself right than helping others

find restoration.


Mark records another Sabbath controversy where Jesus got genuinely

angry because the religious leaders cared more about proving

they were right about Sabbath law than they cared about a man with

a withered hand Jesus wanted to heal (Mark 3:1–6). Honestly, I see

evangelical Christians all the time who appear to value “speaking

truth” and “being right” significantly more than they value lifting

a finger to help broken, hurting, wandering people. I think that’s

a good clue we’ve lost the truth about the heart of Jesus!


What do you think?  How can modern Christians be more like Jesus and less like Pharisees?

10 Responses to ““I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice””

  1. Melt

    During my journey with Jesus I have come to realize that Jesus still has a lot of work in shaping and forming my inner self. For me, being part of Gods church is to get up every morning with the intention to love everyone that crosses your path and be able to go to sleep without hating anyone. This is where is still fall short as i am a sinner that needs Jesus to help and teach me.

    • Jason

      Hello Melt:
      I firstly like to say well done and what a privildge it is to here you say that you and jesus are on a jorneny together, but understand that the moment you allowed
      jesus into you heart and mind and you surrended all is the very moment that he made you absolutly perfect. The thing we struggle with is what is between our ears and that is what needs renewing but our spirit is restored because he now lives there and that is the real you and that us the source of what you now live from.
      From this moment on you are a son or a daughter of the king not a sinner but a SAINT!
      once you make that decision and make your mind up that you will live in response to Jesus’s rightouness and not your own, people and your response to them will be far better and your reaponse to your self will be far better. God Bless

  2. Jake Jacobs

    As I recently heard, the difference between Mercy and Grace is that while Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, Mercy is NOT getting what we deserve. I bear witness to what you’ve so eloquently stated. I am in fervent prayer asking that the Holy Spirit gives me wisdom and cleanses my heart posture. I believe that both wisdom and salt “cures” wielding the sword of truth. Christ’s heart posture wasn’t accomplished in a classroom setting (simply memorizing passages and obeying the written law). Christ was in the battlefield, demonstrating HOW to use wisdom and compassion to achieve discernment, so that now, because He has sent the SPIRIT of truth to be our advocate (Not just the WRITTEN truth), we would be in a better position to follow the Spirit rather than the flesh (law).

    Just my 1.5 cents.

  3. Regina Glorioso

    I liked what you said about whether Christians today are like the Pharisees. Indeed I do see my fellow brother and sisters in Christ so grounded in the scripture they don’t see the heart of the scripture. They sometimes unintentionally make others feel marginalized and unworthy of our Fathers love, as if He had limitations of mercy. People from other countries, gays, and nonchristians sometimes get trampled under the feet of people who use scripture to forge separation and judgement as people have done throughout history. The nazis used scriptures against the Jews, the southerner s used it against the Africans and men have used it against women to make the point of superiority. As Christians we do not have the right to hold back on unconditional love that has been unconditionally given to us.

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    jesus christ, who was in his day of living was known as Yashua, was the annointed son “bar/ben” of {shil} God (Elohim) & the Real meaning of this Quote is that The Yah Weh Elohim connected the concept of meciful forgiveness to an alternative to sacrifice. the word “Desires” means sacrifice was beating out Mercy & Yahweh Elohim wants Humans to know {his} Desire: mercy. So if Pauline christians believe Jesus Christ was a Human sacrifice then why would God {yahweh elohim}, in the near to the new testament book of Hosea [right after Daniel], say [in such a trully queing into the importance of the word way] Desire? Remember that the vision of Daniel is about the immediate arrival of christ as well as the eventual arrival of 7 angels that come in the end of days sequence. Jesus Christ was for centuries thought to have been killed and raised from the dead. but new books od modern discovery blows holes in this belief due to the amount of secrets revealed in the translated Qumran scrolls [dead sea scrolls]. I know that it is no way for a true pauline christian to agree with me but this is the truth of this meaning. That God desired more for Jesus not to die than to die. So Pauline Christians why would Jesus tell us to ask [god] and it shall be [WIIL BE] given if he, Jesus, asked to not die on the cross in matthew 26;39 and it was not given {according to your perception].


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