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Communion Meditation (12) – Mercy, Not Sacrifice

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” – Matthew 12:7

Bread and WineFrom the time of Cain and Able, man has offered sacrifice to God. Though we have no explicit statement of how God said to those primeval brothers that they should sacrifice, we are sure that He somehow informed them.

We see sacrifices in the time of Noah and the patriarchs of the Israelites. At Sinai, God gave Israel highly detailed instructions as to the number and nature of the sacrifices offered by the Aaronic priests in the Tabernacle and later the Temple.

We are somewhat surprised, then, when God said through the prophet, “Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them” (Amos 5:22). Why does He say this? It is because, as He said in Micah 6:8, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Right ritual without righte­ous­­ness is not accepted.

Jesus quoted this later statement at least twice in Matthew. In 9:13 He used it to rebuke the Pharisees for thinking he should shun the sinners. In 12:7 He quoted it to rebuke them for giving their traditions higher value than they gave to God’s direct commandments.

In this Supper, am I more concerned with right ritual than I am with an humble, honest heart? If He stood beside me at this Table, would He rebuke me with these words as well?

He is here with me. He is more interested in me having mercy in my heart than He is in having the right ritual as I “observe” the Supper. It’s almost as if He would rather me have a heart like His heart than to correctly discern the ritual and rigidly “observe” it. Would He rather I actually remember Him than observe right ritual without seeing Him?

– Antidote to Worry

– Does Jesus Disappoint Me?

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