When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13
Listen: Matthew 9
Tax collectors were well known for taking advantage of their neighbors. They were near the bottom of the social structure, and nobody liked them. When Jesus associated with tax collectors and other well-known sinners, the Pharisees were upset. These very tax collectors had taken advantage of their families and friends. How could Jesus associate with these people? Hearing their questions, Jesus responds with mercy. He saw broken sinful people and had mercy on them. The Pharisees saw broken sinful people and had no mercy to give.
This story of the Pharisees’ reaction may be thousands of years old, but we struggle with mercy just like they did. They looked down on groups of people who they viewed as sinful and unclean. What groups do you look down on and withhold mercy from? It could be someone who doesn’t vote the same way as you, who worships differently, who lives differently or who looks different than you. What might it look like if you pulled up a chair at your table for someone different today?
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Get to a quiet place with a pen, paper and a few minutes. Write out this sentence, “I struggle to show mercy to ______. This week I will look for opportunities to change that.” Spend the rest of your time asking your heavenly Father for help showing mercy.
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.