Matthew 9:13

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 9:13 

“But go and learn what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13 

This verse is part of the story where Matthew was called by Jesus to be one of His disciples.  “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, “Follow Me! And he rose and followed Him.” Matthew 9:9. There appears to have been no hesitation from Matthew in making this decision for it says he got right up and followed.  In fact, Luke tells us that Matthew left everything behind to follow Him. “And he left everything behind and rose and began to follow Him.” Luke 5:28.

After Jesus called him, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home for dinner. The length of time between Matthew’s call and the dinner mentioned here is not specified in the text, but it was likely a short time span. And more people showed up to attend. “And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.” Matthew 9:10. These were probably friends and colleagues of Matthew who were also invited to the dinner. Tax collectors would likely be unacceptable to the Pharisees due not only to their deserved reputation for extortion but also to their frequent associations with Gentiles. The term ‘sinners’ designates those whose behavior was egregiously ungodly, but from the Pharisaic perspective it may also include those who did not observe the traditional interpretations of the scriptures on such matters as ritual purity, food laws, and Sabbath observance.

Now, the Pharisees thought this to be unacceptable, so they questioned it. “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?” Matthew 9:11. The attitude of the Pharisees was one of disgust. In essence, their attitude was such that their intended question was probably, “Why is your Teacher eating with such scum?” Now, when Jesus heard this, He immediately answers them with an analogy, even though the question was not addressed directly to Him. “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12. Jesus is associating sin with  disease. Metaphorically and proverbially speaking, the sinners with whom he associated with were “ill” and needed help. Jesus takes a humble illustration from ordinary life, where it is the sick, not the well, who need medical help.

Next, we come to our focus verse. “But go and learn what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13. First, he tells the Pharisees to look at Hosea so they can truly understand what it means. He is not telling them to go away, but to think about what He means.  Then He proceeds to quote the prophet Hosea from the Old Testament.  “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6. This is what He was saying they did not understand.  Jesus used the word ‘compassion’ rather than loyalty, but when looking at the Hebrew for this word, it can mean ‘goodness’ and ‘kindness’, which is basically compassion. The Pharisees would have understood this. But then He goes further to say, “for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13b.

The Pharisees presumed they were good enough because they believed they kept the letter of the law.  That they followed all the rituals and deeds that they believed God required of them, and this was adequate to attain eternal life. The prophets did not want to abolish the sacrificial system but to reform it by stressing inner purity over ritual purity. Jesus’ final words apply the metaphorical language to the reality of his mission—the ‘healthy’ are those who think they are righteous, like the Pharisees, and the ‘sick’ are those who realize that they need Jesus’ ‘medicine.’ It is to this second group that Jesus was sent, and he called them to repentance. And this is what we are called to do. “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15. There should be no one we consider  unworthy of hearing the truth and having the opportunity to repent and receive salvation. The Pharisees believed they were just fine. The tax collectors and sinners did not, and therefore Jesus spent His time with them.  We must always be ready to present the gospel, no matter who it is.  If we speak to them the truth of the gospel, we have done what He desires us to do.  But if we choose not to because we do not want to associate with them, then we are not. We must be humble and go to all with the medicine of the gospel. Let’s make doing our best to reach the lost our goal in this life.  iz

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Hosea 6:6

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Hosea 6:6  

“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6  

The prophet Hosea sees both Israel and Judah operating in sin and He tells them at the end of chapter 5 that they will soon experience God’s punishment.  “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver. I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Hosea 5:14-15.  And the major sin they committed was idolatry, which they had chosen over the true God..  “Hear this, O priests! Give heed, O house of Israel! Listen, O house of the king! For the judgment applies to you, for you have been a snare at Mizpah And a net spread out on Tabor. The revolters have gone deep in depravity, But I will chastise all of them.  I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; For now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot, Israel has defiled itself. Their deeds will not allow them To return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD.”  Hosea 5:1-4.  Therefore, the prophet is calling them to return to the Lord.  The prophet trying to encourage them that if they return to God, He will retore them, thus giving them a motive to return because things will be made good again.

However, in chapter six, we see that this was not acceptable, for more was required of them.  “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? For your loyalty is like a morning cloud And like the dew which goes away early.” Hosea 6:4. The problem stated here by the Lord was that they may put forth a form of loyalty, but it would not be true and thus would not last.  This did seem to be the pattern of Israel through history.  He declares to them this loyalty would not last. It would be temporary as it always was.  He used the picture of the morning clouds which disappear when the sun rises, and like the due that falls in the night which quickly dries up when the heat of the morning sun comes. 

And because of this, He has sharply reproved them through the prophets.  “Therefore, I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.” Hosea 6:5. This is similar to wording used with Jeremiah where God tells him, “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” Jeremiah 23:29. The idea is that God’s word rouses and strengthens the conscience yet crushes within the heart everything that is evil.  His word is used to shape and mold us, while destroying the evil that resides in us.  And this judgement is as the light going forth, that others may see it and tremble.  This is similar to what Matthew wrote when he said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” Matthew 5:14.

Then we come to our focus verse.  “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”  Hosea 6:6. God desires loyalty, love and a relationship with them above sacrifice and tradition.  He desires them to learn about Him and know Him better, then to simply present burnt offerings.  

And He desires the same from us today.  He wants a loving relationship with us, where we seek Him with all we are, not just one where we simply follow the rules and when we do wrong, we perform some ritual that we believe will make all things right.   Christianity is all about a relationship with God, and not simply rituals we perform.  This is what God was telling Hosea in our focus verse.  Rituals and customs are not bad in and of themselves, but if not done out of love or without giving God our all is simply works.  Let us always focus on our relationship with Him, for this is what He desires.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.