Mercy, Not Sacrifice

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent” (Matthew 12:7).

These words grabbed my attention early this morning.  When the Pharisees came and accused Jesus and His disciples of breaking the Law by picking heads of grain and eating it on the Sabbath, Jesus’s response reveals a true purpose of God’s law.  The point of the commands and laws and regulations in Scripture is to build character traits in us that allow us to better reflect God’s image.

The Pharisees had somehow missed this.  The law was never about rote obedience, but about being more like God.  The point is not the sacrifice, it’s the mercy.  It’s not the strict regulations defining what “work” is on a Sabbath day, it’s the rest for a weary soul.  It’s not living by the letter of the law, but by the Spirit of the Living God.  If our character reflects the character of our Father in Heaven, we won’t need to worry about rules and regulations because we’ll be loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves, and in doing so we’ll be keeping the law!

As I read these words of Jesus, I found myself asking the question, “Where does my character reflect God’s, and where does my character need to be more aligned with God’s?”  God desires mercy, not sacrifice; love, not rote obedience.  My prayer for us this week is that God will reveal to us how we might better bear His image and will build our character through His Word.


Heritage Matters

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

The Gospel of Matthew begins with 17 verses of genealogy–lots of names that can be tedious reading.  There are many such passages in Scripture, and while we may not find them overly interesting, they are nonetheless important.  As Matthew 1:1 points out, the purpose of this family tree is to show that Jesus is directly connected to both David and Abraham.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham (then named Abram) in Genesis 12, that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  And, Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7, that David’s descendant would reign as King forever.

By charting out Jesus’s family tree and showing his readers that Jesus is directly descended from both Abraham and David, Matthew shows us that Jesus is in fact qualified to fulfill both these promises.  Then, starting in verse 18, Matthew shows us that not only is Jesus the son of Abraham and the son of David but that he is also the Son of God.

As I read these verses, I was prompted to ask myself, “Where did you come from?  What is your background?  Never forget your heritage, no matter how far you go.”  I believe that our pasts, whether good or bad, can be used for good in God’s greater plan.  None of us were accidents, although some of us were surprises :-), we each were carefully planned by the Creator himself!  Where we’ve come from shapes who we are and is all part of God’s sovereign plan.

My prayer for us this week is that we will find the time to take a moment and consider our heritage.  Where have we come from, and where are we going?  What legacy do we want to leave as a heritage for our kids and grandkids?  May the Lord lead you to use your past to bless another this week.