By Anthony Cavaliere
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Matthew 9b-12)
These words of Jesus remind us of the balanced premise that is the basis of Lutheran teaching: Law and Gospel, sin and grace. Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, the prime example of legalists. They taught that in order to be right with God, a person had to follow the letter the law. They taught nothing about the spirit of the law which is the love of God. Thus they mislead their followers and themselves into thinking they could make themselves right with God.
But Jesus said that the Lord God desired not works of the law from His people but mercy. God does really desire sacrifice but not one we can make. None of our works can satisfy His Law. His one work of bearing our sin on the cross does it all. As a result He can grant mercy and forgiveness to all who have faith in Him, in the great offering He made for us. But what He does desire from us is that we dispense mercy. He desires that we forgive as He does, that we love as He does, that we extend mercy to people who do not deserve it because He extended mercy to us sinners who did not deserve His love.
Help us Lord to be merciful and kind to everyone. Amen.