top of page

Go and Learn What This Means. 509. Jan 14, 2023.

KEY SCRIPTURE: Matthew 9:11-13

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 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.


You're a Doctor of Jewish Law mixing with others of the same calibre. There is nothing about the Bible you do not know. Or, so you think. You keep all the celebratory feasts, follow the volumes of writings of former priests and scribes, and place strict tithing demands on as many of the peoples' monies and goods as you can get away with. You hold authority and wear your magisterial garments in the streets so people will look up to you, having no doubt that you are above them. As part of your training, you require commoners to address you as Rabbi. Making money from various religious activities has caused you to become wealthy. One could easily think you own the town. 

Then, in front of a crowd of nobodies, a little-known upstart half your age instructs you to go and learn something from the scriptures, those passages you've studied all your life. You instantly become red-faced with indignation, thinking, "Who do you think you are to instruct me?" 

How can there be anything in scripture you don't know? You can quote all the prophets and possess deep knowledge of the doctrine and practices of the sacrifices and holy days, but you keep your mouth closed. Where is the gap in your mastery of the sacred texts?

You know the passage to which this arrogant twerp refers: Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. He is pointing directly to the thieving, disobedient priesthood of that era. 

"Is this person suggesting that I am the same as them?" 

What did Jesus ask this Pharisee to learn?  About how mercy fits into the Bible's sacrificial system. All the Israelite sacrifices, in some sense, related to the mercies of God. Yet some interspersed priesthoods chose not to see that. 

So often, we cry for the Lord's mercy. Mercy is what we all need, and it was what they needed in the times of Hosea and also at Capernaum, where Jesus spoke at the time of our key verse. Mercy is a derivative of love. Love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8), and some of the sacrifices were there to cover Israel's multitude of sins. 

Had Israel seen godly mercy from their priests in place of human-nature greed, it would have spread across Israel exactly how the Lord wanted. But Israel followed their priests directly into idolatry and every other addiction. Love and mercy suffered, along with the blessings they bring. 


Dear Lord, please help me be as merciful as you are to me. My opinions need to align with yours, but I so easily forget. Please help mercy to remain at the forefront of the thoughts and intents of my heart.

What does it mean for us?

To balance some harsher judgements, Christians need reminders of the Lord's mercy that they freely received through Christ. In that sense, this scripture endures. Regardless of how many times per week we attend church, pray or read our Bibles, if mercy doesn't underpin our relationships and opinions, then Jesus would have said the same thing to us.


Dear Lord, may you always see me as merciful as you are to me. My opinions need to align with yours, but I so easily forget. Please help mercy to remain on the surface of my thoughts and intents of the heart.

Photo by Alexander Grey with Sharon McCutcheon


bottom of page