Mat 9:12-13 But when he heard it, he said, “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.”
Matt 9:12-13 should not be seen as just another discrete truth of scripture. But rather this is a truth that summarizes much of the entire book or Matthew. This verse is challenging the larger meta-narrative of how each of us interprets life and truth. The definition of a meta-narrative is an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences and understanding.
Every time we leave Church on Sunday and attempt to apply our Christian truths, we apply them into the larger narrative, or a lens of interpretation, in our lives. In Matt 9:12-13, Jesus is challenging this narrative by saying the religious narrative of the Pharisees, sacrifice, is not the narrative Jesus wants.
Jesus challenges the Pharisees with the narrative of mercy. Jesus words about these two narratives seems just as applicable today as it did in His day when Jesus was dealing with the Pharisees. Tim Keller nuances out these two narratives in today’s culture by saying one narrative is “religion” and the other narrative is “Gospel”. He goes on to say the difference between Gospel and religion is religion says if you obey, you are acceptable; but the Gospel message says you are accepted, therefore you obey.
Matt 9:12-13 summarizes much of the book of Matthew as Jesus discusses the Kingdom of Heaven and what a discipleship community of Christ followers should look like. The issue, Jesus says, when we apply truth with the religious (sacrifice) narrative we often misuse or abuse God’s truth the same ways the Pharisees did. This narrative breaks down and destroys relationships! However, when we apply God’s truth with the mercy narrative, we draw people into a community of people that represent the Gospel and Jesus. The mercy narrative builds and strengthens our relationship with God as well as our relationships with each other.
The Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ tells us…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever cared to admit AND…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.