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Dec 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Thirty-five – Matthew 12:1-8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. Matthew 12:7

Jesus protected his disciples from unnecessary spiritual abuse. The Pharisees had passed judgment on the disciples for doing something that was “not lawful to do on a Sabbath” (v. 2). Jesus responded with two questions that took them back to the Scriptures–both begin with, “Have you not read . . .?”–and then with three statements.

  • The first question referred to a story in 1 Samuel where “David and his companions” were given sacred bread that “was not lawful for him to eat.” This exception to the rule was permitted because human need (hunger) has priority over religious taboos, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27).
  • The second question was drawn from the Law of Moses which stipulated that the work of the priests went on every day–even more so on the Sabbath. Technically they broke the Sabbath, yet they were “innocent.” 
  • Then Jesus made the astounding statement that “something greater than the temple” was present among them. The temple was, of course, the sacred place from which the bread was taken that fed David and it was also where the priests did their work on the Sabbath.
  • Jesus’ next statement was a scolding based on another biblical reference–this time from the prophet Hosea where God said, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice.” Jesus told the Pharisees that if they had interpreted this passage correctly and known what it means, they would not have “condemned the innocent” (disciples).
  • Jesus’ third statement was as astounding as the first, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” which meant he had the right to redefine the Sabbath rules and to use the Sabbath however he thought best.

What always stands out to me in this passage is the way Jesus uses the quotation from Hosea, that God has a desire and it is his preference to see us show mercy to each other over offering him sacrificial worship. Desire is a longing not yet fulfilled. We make such a big deal out of worship these days, but God says, “To fulfill My desire, make a bigger deal out of mercy.”

Can you make a greater effort to be more merciful? After all, whatever we are willing to give in mercy we will receive in mercy, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Mt. 5:7) and “in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Mt. 7:2).

Heavenly Father, we pray that Your desire will be translated into our hearts as the impulse that determines our attitude and action toward others. Let it link our heart to the heart of Jesus who fulfilled Your desire through his mercy. Let His example motivate and empower us to do the same.




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  1. brian bousquet / Jan 14 2018

    I love these devotionals is there more than just what’s here is there a compilation of all 365 say in a book or something I can’t get enough of these teachings I’ve been watching the broadcast on Facebook and then so comforted and encouraged so I can’t even tell you

  2. Chuck Smith, Jr. / Jan 14 2018

    Brian, thank you for your encouragement. Yes, there were a few I posted before the ones that are on this site. But no, I have not written any further than the last one here. However, you have motivated me to get back to them and complete them. –chuck

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