These are Jesus words to the Pharisees in Matthew 9:12, 13: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go and learn what that means. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Parallel texts are Mark 2:17 and Luke 5:31,32)
When Jesus says, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice…,” he is saying that those whom he saves must believe they are sinners and confess their sins with sorrow and repentance. Only when by God’s grace one cries for mercy by expressing sorrow for one’s sins will Jesus have mercy on that person.
Jesus will not be merciful to those who do not think they have sin or to those who are not sorry for their sins. He is not willing to sacrifice for them. When people think they are pretty good, and half-heartedly confess their sins, Jesus will not sacrifice himself for them. A sacrifice, not being merciful, is what it would take for Jesus to die for those who are not really sorry.
Some while reading this may think, “I haven’t done anything too bad lately,” and that’s a typical thought coming from completely depraved human beings. Think of how our whole human race would be cast into hell if it weren’t for God’s Son, and realize how wrong even our little sins are. With God’s grace we must be sorry for our sins every day.
We must be sensitive to the word of God in order to know what sins we are guilty of. This means we must read the Bible often, and pray that the Holy Spirit richly dwells in us to give us more understanding of, and sorrow for, our sins.
In Luke 16:10 Jesus says, “…and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” We are, as imperfect creatures, consistently unjust especially in little things. In God’s eyes, whether the sin is small or large, it has the same implication: guilt, deserving condemnation. Jesus will have mercy on the sorrowful, but he won’t sacrifice for the self-righteous.
How can we be cleansed if we don’t repent? It’s impossible.
How can we bring forth fruits if we think we can do them ourselves? We won’t bring forth real fruits.
Is the Holy Spirit dwelling in self-righteous people? No, because the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. In John 16:14 Jesus says, “He, [The Spirit of Truth,] shall glorify me…” It is not glorifying to Christ to suppose, however vaguely, that we are responsible for our salvation.
Again; we must be sensitive to the word of God in order to know what sins we are guilty of. This means we must read the Bible often, and pray that the Holy Spirit richly dwells in us to give us more understanding of and sorrow over our sins.
May God bless all of His chosen ones (Isaiah 41:9) with continuing realization of sins, and the gift of continuous sorrow and repentance for them. ❖