Today’s “Page From My Journal” post really comes from three days’ worth of my studies, starting last Tuesday. I was reading along in Matthew 12 (click the reference if you’d like to follow along on BibleGateway.com), and started noticing…
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, sure gave him a hard time. At every opportunity, too. Here, they pounced on the disciples for grabbing a quick snack when they were hungry. Normally even the Pharisees didn’t criticize people for picking fresh food to eat, but this was on the Sabbath day. When they were supposed to be “resting.”
So Jesus reminded them that no less a leader than King David had done pretty much the same thing. Centuries earlier, David and his hungry companions ate the priestly bread right from the tabernacle. Of course, they had the priest’s permission. Then Jesus quoted the prophet Hosea: “For I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice…” (Hosea 6:6).
Hadn’t I just read that the week before? I turned back a few pages. Sure enough, almost the same conversation appears in Chapter 9, when the Pharisees complained about Jesus extending grace toward sinners. Jesus had told them to “Go and learn what this means.” Then he had quoted the same verse, and had also pointed out that doctors are for sick people, not healthy ones. In my journal I wrote,
The Pharisees were all about self-righteousness. But Jesus kept telling them that God wants us to show compassion / mercy…
1. If I condemn someone, I’m forgetting that I am just a fellow sinner.
2. Trying to “shame” someone is arrogant and doesn’t work anyway. The bigger picture is that everyone needs a Savior.
3. Jesus loved where there was need, not merit.
4. Compassion keeps you from condemning the innocent (12:7).
A bit later, Jesus went into the synagogue and taught some more about the Sabbath. “It is lawful,” he said, “to do good on the Sabbath” (v. 12). The Pharisees were were not amused. Here are my notes about the point Jesus was making:
Jesus answered the Pharisees by reminding them of the sprit of the Sabbath. Focusing on Christ’s love, emulating his compassion… this puts the “rules” into their proper place in life.
God had indeed established the laws, but while the sacrifices represent the letter of the law, compassion represents its spirit. What God really wants is a relationship with people. He wants us to trust him. Jesus encourages that trust because, as the prophet Isaiah foretold,
He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory (verses 18-20; Matthew is quoting Isaiah 42).
I’m thankful that when I was battered by my own sin, Jesus didn’t break me off. And when the wick of my faith smoldered, he didn’t snuff it out altogether. I have learned firsthand what compassion looks like. Now I want to pass it along to others.
Thanks for reading,
PS: Come on over to Rachel Anne’s for some “Company Girl Coffee!” You’re also invited to join the Soli Deo Gloria Sisters over at Jen’s Finding Heaven!
As always, Jan, well written. Sometimes we all miss the spirit of the law by focusing too much on the letter of the law (law = scripture)
Thank you for sharing your insight into scripture and life. I always find your words uplifting, encouraging and a blessing. BTW got the magazine today and love the SWAT article! I know you had fun researching for that piece.
I love learning new truths or reminders from God’s word. Thank you for sharing the message you learned. Hope this week is going well for you! May we both find opportunities to live out compassion this week…showing God’s love…instead of rules!
this is so true isn’t it? We are all so quick to judge….I’ve often said, “if Jesus came to the earth physically today He wouldn’t be hangin’ out with those that know Him but those in the bars and need Him.
Compassion keeps you from condemning the innocent. Oh my, this needs to stay in check with each one of us.
He love us so so grateful!
I’d like to thank all of you for your kind comments. You encourage me to keep studying, and to keep passing along those tidbits that I pick up from the Word. Maybe one day I’ll even make it through Matthew!