I Will have Mercy
By John Weaver
September 1, 2023
One time, Jesus was in a house having a meal when publicans and sinners crowded around Him. They wanted to hear more from Him. He had a message that resonated with them, but it upset the Pharisees, who were the religious people of their day.
Jesus told the Pharisees, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13).
Today, I think Jesus would again tell the religious leaders to learn what it means to have mercy, or to show mercy, or to represent Jesus as a merciful God.
Where did people, preachers none-the-less, ever get the idea to preach condemnation to sinners—to try and show a God of harsh judgement, instead of a God that delights in mercy?
It is only those that hear the word, and decide to reject it, that the judgement of God comes upon. I look at the way Jesus mingled with sinners, again and again, and how He was criticized for it by the elite religious people, and I say, Lord help us. Give us a vision to really help people. Give us Your compassion.
At one time I would have agreed with street preachers who stand on a corner and shout condemnation to the people passing by. That is the concept being given to people about Jesus, and it is, oh, so wrong.
Go and learn what this means: I will have mercy instead of sacrifice. Jesus came, not to bring condemnation, but to give life and hope to sinners. Jesus was hard on the ones who thought that they themselves were righteous and who despised others.
Sinners were drawn to Jesus. He had a message of hope, love, mercy, and repentance. Yes, He always told the people to turn away from a life of sin - like the woman who was caught in adultery. He said, “...Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Jesus did not preach hell-fire and brimstone to sinners. Neither should we.
I am fully aware that there is another ditch: that there are those who misrepresent God as a big Santa Clause who overlooks sin regardless, and that everyone will get to heaven.
If our message of the gospel causes people to be fearful, we are preaching another Jesus. The real Jesus, the one we should all serve and promote, came to call sinners, not the righteous, to Himself.
This is one of those areas where some people have missed the mark, just like the religious leaders did in the days of Jesus. The way to cleanse the church is not to keep the sinners out. It is to have the sinners come and be transformed by the power of God and then become new creatures.
Lord, today we repent where we have misrepresented You. Teach us what it means to have mercy instead of sacrifice. Help us to lift up Jesus. He Himself said if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself. Amen! Let it be so.
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