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Mercy in Matthew (1): Inclusion & Permission

. 3 min read

2014/08/24
Christ Church, Mountain Top
Children,
2 Samuel 24.1-17
Message,
Matthew 9.9-13, 12.1-8
Mercy
in Matthew
      This week, twin stories, Jesus quotes the
same passage from Hosea
      Next, identical twin stories of healed
blind men, both calling for mercy
Repetition
for emphasis
This
week’s stories, in common:
      Jesus, or disciples, violate holiness
taboo
      Pharisees offended & confront
      Jesus responds with teaching & quote
(a theme verse for Jesus?)
Hosea
6.6 – “For I desire steadfast love (mercy) and not sacrifice, the knowledge of
God rather than burnt offerings”
      Jesus says the Pharisees do not understand
Variations on the
theme:
Inclusion versus Exclusion
            Who is in? versus Who is out?
Permission versus Prohibition
            What
can I do? versus What can’t I do?
Religious
people everywhere & in all times favor the last questions
      Exclusion & Prohibition – language of
judgment, not mercy
            “Who’s out?” – has a place, but not
the first place
            “Thou shalt not” – has a place, but
not the first place
      No wonder David, in the darkness of his
sin, declares,
I
am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is
great; but let me not fall into human hands (2 Samuel 24.14).
Ancient
rulers – throne, or other public seat, was a “judgment seat”
      Pilate, condemning Jesus to death, John
19.13
      But YHWH, “mercy seat”, the ark of the
covenant, Exodus 25.17
      “Let me not fall into human hands” (2Sa
24.14)
      “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire
mercy, not sacrifice’” (Mt 9.13)

Mercy,
sacrifice
      Jephthah & his daughter (Judges 11)
      Saul & Jonathan (and the ban on eating,
1 Samuel 14)
      Jesus: “For the JOY set before him endured
the cross” (Hebrews 12.2)
      “If I give away all my possessions and if
I hand over my body … but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1Cor 13.3)
      No pain, no gain
      Give until it hurts
Inclusion
versus Exclusion:
      Race, Ferguson, MO
            Confessing the truth about racism
& white privilege
            Does not mean that we have not been
the subject of discrimination
            We manufacture prejudice
                  Hair parted in the middle – vain (but was
petty)
      Sexual Identity
            A matter of debate in churches today
            Biblical prohibition language, and
cultural issues
            Clear call of Mercy is welcome
Permission
versus Prohibition:
      Wesley’s 2nd general rule – do
all the good you can (permission)
By
doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have
opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all
men (John Wesley, Book of Discipline)
      Confirmation – love God, love everyone
      Galatians 5.6, “The only thing that counts
is faith expressing itself through love” (mercy)
      Acting in mercy, “guiltless” (Matthew
12.7)
      Need for discernment – love for self in
disguise? “The heart is devious above all else … who can understand it?”
(Jeremiah 17.9)
“Go
and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Mt 9.13)
      The gift for us:
            Unworthy made welcome

            Sinners made “guiltless”