“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:13 NKJV
What do we desire? Is it mercy like our savior or are we more like the Jewish rulers Jesus was responding to?
Why did Jesus say this? The answer reveals the heart of God and helps us understand what our own desire should be as imitators of Christ.
We certainly would not want to be admonished like the Scribes when Jesus said:
“Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces,” Mark 12:38 NKJV
The heart of God IS the GOSPEL of Christ. It is the ultimate demonstration of God’s desire for mercy, foreordained before the foundation of the world.
Since before Man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, God sovereignly chose to make His glory known through His mercy. He didn’t destroy Adam and Eve, demonstrating His merciful character. Yet there were, and are today, many consequences to sin. Death entered creation and man was driven out of the garden, separating man and God both physically and spiritually. In our hopelessness, God’s glory would be revealed in His plan for the redemption of man. God elected the Jewish nation as the conduit for the Messiah, God’s ultimate solution for mans sin. He established the law and sacrifices with His chosen people and it all pointed to Christ and our need for a Savior.
It was to the Jewish leaders Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 …“go study what this means…”. But they had failed to see what God had revealed to them over and over throughout their history. They were blind in their OWN righteousness and therefore completely missed the fulfillment of God’s promise- Jesus standing right in front of them!
God’s sovereign will has always included mercy. Through Jesus, our All in All, the WHOLE world has been granted a way to be reconciled with their creator, to obey the Gospel.
It is the greatest news for anyone, any man, any woman, every child on earth. Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save YOU! The Bible tells us that ALL fall short of God’s glory, and that we are ALL in need of his MERCY. It can be confusing if you don’t understand the Gospel. Some people think that they should try to get their life together before they come to God. Some people think that they need to be regenerated by God before they can exercise faith. But the truth is, God wants you to come just as you are. This is why Jesus tells the Jewish leaders in Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
…….So how do we come to Christ?
FIRST AND FORMOST
We must recognize that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy and Grace. The Bible tells us in Romans 5 that because of Adam’s sin, we are all separated from God, and are in need of His salvation. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says “For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.” In other words, we do NOT deserve salvation, because we are not sinless. The only sinless man that ever walked the earth was Jesus Christ.(1 Peter 2:22, Heb 4:15, etc.) We cannot save ourselves, only Christ can save us. There is no amount of good that can be done to deserve salvation. It is by the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
THE PENALTY MUST BE PAID
For us to come to the Lord, the penalty for our sins had to be paid. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” is declared in Romans 6:23. In the Old Testament, we learn that before the time of Christ, God required blood for the atonement of sins from his chosen people. God ordained the Jewish sacrificial system as shadow Christ and His ultimate sacrifice. How does Jesus atone for our sins? Since Christ is infinitely perfect and holy, (1 Peter 2:22, etc.) and since “God made Christ Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21) His sacrifice on the Cross is infinitely sufficient to atone for the sins of all who will receive Him. Why did He do this? Because He loves us so much. He is our creator. He created us to have a relationship with us for His own glory. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16
BELIEVE JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD
Paul says in 1 Cor 15:3-5, “ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” This passage is the entire gospel summed up. Paul is clearly teaching that Christ’s resurrection is essential to our salvation, and that without it, there is no resurrection of those who have believed. Paul goes on to say in 1 Cor 15:12-19:
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY
Acts 4:12 says “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Thankfully we have Christ to call upon because of Gods mercy and grace.
Romans 10:12-17 says…
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
WHAT MUST WE DO TO BE SAVED
It is Christ alone that saves. He saves through faith, through the hearing of his word. If you’ve heard the Gospel, and you truly believe it, your response will be similar to the following: Confession that you are a sinner, and that you want to follow Him. Thanking God for sending His Son to die on the cross for your sins, and raising Him from the dead that you may have life through Him. There’s no “special prayer” to pray, you simply talk to God from your heart.
There is nothing magical about the prayer itself, it is simply an act of faith. Romans 10: 9-10 says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” It is because of this new heart he has given you that you are now able to do his will. Your new heart, and your new spirit will be evidence that Christ is in you. Your desires will begin, through sanctification, to align more and more with the will of God.
BEING BORN AGAIN
The Bible says you must be “born again.” Jesus says in John 3:3 “…I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” What does that mean? The following passage in John 3:1-8 explains clearly:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
To be born again means to be born from above. You are first born of the flesh, of your mother’s womb. You are literally “your mother’s child.” This is your physical birth. When you accept Christ as your Savior, you are “born again” of spirit… of God. You now become a child of God as proclaimed in Romans 8:14 and as His child, you now take part in the inheritance, which is the kingdom of God. (Matthew 25:34) This is the essence of the Gospel.
Once you’ve made the decision to accept and follow Christ, you can rest assured that you have eternal life, and it cannot be taken away from you. It is maintained not by anything you can do, but by the hand of God. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28) Something that is eternal cannot be taken away, otherwise it isn’t eternal, it would only be temporary. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
All who have trusted in God Word and made a decision to follow Christ, are now adopted as children of God. As God’s children we have all spiritual blessings IN Christ and also the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God has also given us a responsibility to share the good news with others. Also, it is vital for Christians to fellowship with other Christians in order to encourage and support one another. Christian life is not the end of trials, we are still in a fallen world, so leaning on Christ WITH one another is so important.
All THIS is my hearts desire and I pray it is yours as well!