Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Matthew 9:9-17 Jesus is sitting at the table with tax collectors and sinners, those marginalized by society, treated as unworthy and shamed for having done something “sinful.” When pressed by the Pharisees to justify himself, Jesus challenges them with a statement straight out of Hosea (6:6), the prophet commanded to marry a prostitute! Part of their challenge is understanding where they fit in the story. By sitting with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus demonstrates that no physical sacrifice takes the place of God’s mercy and grace for his people. Jesus, like Hosea joins himself with the lost and the marginalized. His purpose is first to heal, redeem and reconcile them back to God. If the Pharisees see themselves as the righteous and their knowledge of the law as a gift, the challenge is clear; they too are charged to show mercy. What are our gifts? Where do we fit in the story? I’ve come to understand that the gifts God has given us is not about us. It’s about God using us through those gifts, in order that everyone has the opportunity to sit with Christ at the table of mercy, receive healing, and be redeemed back into His fold; tax collectors, sinners and Pharisees alike.
Mark 9:37 ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
In Jesus’ Palestine children were marginalized in that they had no power and certainly no authority. While the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest, Jesus is pretty much walking the green mile. He knows he is about to be put to death, essentially leaving the disciples behind to fend for themselves in this physical life. It is important for the disciples to understand that any power or authority they hope to receive will be tied to their relationships with the marginalized. Physically all of the disciples were that child at one time and now as disciples of Christ they must become that child again. Jesus became that child for us and now we must become that child for one another and for others and at all times be ready to serve because while on this earth, the power is in the service.
Mark 9:35 ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’
Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
…justice for all
In a democratic society our leaders are elected, chosen or both. The individuals who elect or choose them do so with the expectation that they will be represented as to their needs within the society. Subsequently, laws are passed to serve the needs of the people, and for all intensive purposes this generally works. But as we all know the system isn’t perfect and for various reasons there’s always a marginalized group of people who don’t quite fit perfectly into the equation. Therefore there is always room for someone to rise up as a leader specifically to address the needs of those who have been unaccounted for. Unfortunately there are two kinds of leaders who rise to this occasion. The first is self-appointed like Absalom the rebellious son of King David and the second is anointed like Paul the Pharisee, Apostle to the Gentiles. The difference is in what comes from the heart. The one who continually seeks the face of God will make known God’s character as opposed to his own. Today, let us pray for our own discernment of the leaders before us that we may gain the portion of our inheritance promised to all those once marginalized but are now accounted for.
Psalm 105:1-22 When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in it, …he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.
2 Samuel 15:1-18 “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.”
Mark 10:32-45 You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them,…But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.
Acts 21:27-36 …he has actually brought Greeks into the temple…