11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
12On hearing this, Jesus said,“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
What does this quote from Hosea 6:6 mean? Jesus said to go and learn what it means.
In Hosea 6 the prophet is speaking for God. It is God saying to His people Israel that He desires mercy, not sacrifice. The sacrifices for sin had become meaningless to God because repentant hearts did not accompany them. the people were sinning, sacrificing and then on to more sinning. The ritual had no impact on their hearts. The shedding of blood for their sin did not impact them. It did not draw them closer to the will of their God.
God desires to extend mercy to repentant hearts, not the sacrifices of those who are far from Him. Jesus reflects the heart of God by saying ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ We could say it this way: Jesus came not to call the self-righteous but repentant sinners. The difference is people who humbly acknowledge their need for mercy and those who are confident in their own acts of religiosity. They understand themselves as righteous, but they are far from the heart of God.
You can identify self-righteous people pretty quickly. They tend to ‘look down their noses’ at other people. They judge. They take pride in the sins they don’t commit. They mask effectively the ones they do. Image is important. Authenticity and humility are a stretch.
Jesus, having a limited number of days here on earth, went after the sinners. More spiritual fruitfulness for the Kingdom, to be sure. He desires to extend mercy. Humble hearted sinners long for mercy. It seems that nothing pleases the heart of God more than to extend mercy to a sinner.
Lord Jesus, I humble myself before You today. I don’t claim any righteousness apart from You living in and through me. My only boast is in the cross where You shed Your blood for me. Thank You for extending mercy to me this day! Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit. Keep me close to Your heart and allow me the opportunities to express Your love for people. You desire to extend mercy… thank You!