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Authority: God Desires Mercy and not Sacrifice
Bible study on Authority: God desires mercy.

Matt. 9:9-13; Matt. 12:1-8

God desires mercy, not sacrifice (cf. Mk. 2:23-28).

"Mercy" defined as used in Matt. 9:13 and Matt. 12:7 "is the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it" (Vines). The principle Jesus teaches is that providing the necessary needs of people takes president over sacrifice.

"Sacrifice" defined as used in Matt. 9:13 and Matt. 12:7 is "primarily denotes the act of offering; then, objectively, that which is offered" (Vines). The word "sacrifice" represented the ceremonial portion of the Mosaic Law which aided the people in their spiritual and moral service to God.

Applying this principle today (I desire mercy and not sacrifice): "Sacrifice" represents the things we use and employ to aid us in service to God. These would include the church building and all its furnishings, the treasury and the expedient means of accomplishing God's will. "Mercy" demands that the aids we employ in service to God be used to meet the needs of people which cannot be met in any other authorized way. If the only way we can tend to the emergency needs of people involved in an auto accident is to use the church's first-aid kit, telephone and building, we must use them to meet the emergency needs. The emergency medical needs of people are of greater importance than a first-aid kit, telephone or church building. But, this does not authorize us to change the work of the church to fund, build, and oversee a hospital to care for unbelievers. The word "sacrifice" does not represent the doctrinal practices commanded in Christ's law. For example, we could not deny Christ before men to save our own life or the life of another person (Matt. 10:32-33; 1 Tim. 6:11-14; Rev. 2:10).

Matt. 9:9-13

It was necessary for Jesus to associate with sinners since His mission was to call sinners to repentance. The Pharisees did not understand the principle of mercy above sacrifice (Hos. 6:6).

Matt. 12:1-8

Jesus' disciples were in a position where they found it necessary to pluck grain on the Sabbath.

Jesus' first example (Matt. 12:3-4): David (and his men) ate the showbread (1 Sam. 21:1- 6). The law specified that the showbread was to be eaten by the priests (Lev. 24:9). David was in a situation where it was necessary for him and his men to eat the showbread. Note that the necessity of this one situation did not authorize David and his men to eat the showbread under normal circumstances. The same thing is true today. The things which are done out of mercy under emergency circumstances do not authorize doing the same things under normal circumstances. Likewise, Jesus' disciples were in a similar situation where it was necessary for them to pluck grain in order to eat though the law forbid this work on the Sabbath. The necessity for Jesus' disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath one time did not authorize them to pluck grain on the Sabbath under normal circumstances. Today, whatever is done in an emergency situation because of mercy does not authorize the same thing to be done in normal circumstances.

Jesus' second example (Matt. 12:5): Priests were commanded to work on the Sabbath in violation of the Sabbath law itself. The disciples (when plucking grain) were obeying God just as the priests were on the Sabbath. The disciples were excused from the Sabbath law as were the priests. Similarly today, we give unleavened bread and fruit of the vine which has been purchased from the church's treasury to unbelievers in our assembly wishing to partake of the Lord's Supper. It is not the normal work of the church to provide food to unbelievers. But because of mercy, we allow unbelievers to partake of the bread.

Jesus cites His authority (Matt. 12:6): Jesus is greater than the temple. The temple was the dwelling place of Jehovah. Therefore, Jesus declares Himself to be equal to God (cf. Jn. 1:1). Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Therefore, He has authority over the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27-28).

Secular examples of "mercy" above sacrifice.

Our civil law allows for judicial discretion in cases of necessity. These are situations in which the necessities of a situation deem an action reasonable in light of the present circumstances.

For example, speeding in a car to rush someone to the hospital is accepted as a necessary action in light of the circumstances. But, endangering other people by driving recklessly would not be considered appropriate.

For example, speeding in a car to enter a lane on the freeway to safely move into traffic in considered a necessary and appropriate action unless the driver were reckless. Likewise, speeding to pass a car on a highway to avoid a head-on collision would be considered an appropriate action unless the driver was reckless.

For example, speeding in Atlanta to travel at a normal and safe speed for the traffic conditions, is considered a necessary and appropriate action. If traffic was moving at 65 M.P.H., it is considered better to go 65 M.P.H. than the posted 55 M.P.H. to avoid an accident.

But on the contrary, speeding to get to church, work or school on time is not considered necessary. Getting up on time and diligently preparing for church, work or school is necessary - not fast driving.

Religious examples of "mercy" above sacrifice.

One congregation runs out of communion cups and calls another local congregation to borrow communion cups. Mercy dictates that the immediate need be met, but it is not a normal work of the church to provide communion cups to other local congregations.

If an unbeliever is visiting the assembly and has a medical problem demanding immediate attention, mercy demands that the immediate need be met. The phone could be used to call for help, the medical supplies could be used, and grape juice for the Lord's Supper could be given the sick person. But, supplying medical attention to unbelievers is not a normal work of the church.