Week Four – Jesus’ Encounter with Matthew
Day Three: Wednesday – Meditate
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When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, He also issued a call to the Pharisees—more of a scathing indictment actually. He indicted them on the condition of their hearts. The Pharisees were some of the most piously disciplined men you would ever meet. Though they busied themselves with religious duties, their activity was divorced from an authentic love for God. Pointing out their hypocrisy, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6, a verse they had likely memorized as young men in rabbinical school.
Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees had cornered the market on sacrificial living. They understood sacrifice. They had given up a lot to enter pharisaical life. Yet, Jesus said they lacked mercy. In fact, He rebuked their hypocrisy by basically telling them to go back to school and “learn what this means.”
The word mercy is the Hebrew word chesed, meaning steadfast love, goodness, or charity. The word best summarizes the Great Commandment: love God and love others (Matthew 22:34–40). In a word, the heart of the Great Commandment is about relationship — relationship with God and relationship with the world.
The call to follow Jesus is equally about relationship. The Pharisees had severed the idea of relationship from the equation, inserting sacrifice instead. Inserting personal effort. Inserting religious duty.
Turn to Hosea 6:6 and read it five times slowly, meditating and ruminating on each word. Ask the Holy Spirit to confirm in your heart where your tendencies lie. Mercy (Relationship) or Sacrifice (External Religion)?
How does your life exemplify mercy? In what ways do you demonstrate love for God and love for people in an authentic way?
Close this time of meditation by turning Hosea 6:6 into a prayer. Say something like, “Lord, transform my desires into your desires. Help me desire steadfast love rather than sacrifice. Help me desire the knowledge of You, the Living God, rather than burnt offerings—rather than religious duty. Help me love You sincerely and love people the way you do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”