12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Everybody loves the stories of Jesus being challenged by the Pharisees. With a single scripture he silenced the Pharisees and brought freedom from the letter of the Law.
When I was a younger Christian I would have said, ‘Yes and Amen to that, I am on Jesus’s team, I would never use the scriptures to my own advantage’, however the older I get the more I wonder how often I act like a Pharisee and do not realise it.
The problem with these Pharisees was a preoccupation with legalities without understanding the underpinning principles of ‘love and grace’. Simply, God has shown great ‘undeserved favour’ to us and in turn, asks we show ‘undeserved favour’ to others.
Grace that has been shown to us must be passed on.
What is interesting about the verse ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ is it’s speaking to people who are already devoted to God. This is less about how we treat God and more about how we treat others.
So, take the opportunity today to observe your own behaviour and attitudes to others. Do I show the same quality of mercy to others that is shown to me.
Lord, I ask you to help me today to be more sensitive to others and how I may practically show mercy to those I come into contact with.
Written by David Newton