This is a journal excerpt from morning prayer at a recent Journey retreat:
Thought. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13 NIV)
Jesus, You didn’t come for the ones who already saw themselves as righteous. Self-righteous people wouldn’t feel the need to follow a Savior. You came to invite those who knew themselves to be sinners to come follow You. And it was an invitation to every kind of following—physical, moral, relational and spiritual.
Feeling. 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 9:12, 13 NIV)
I feel a mix of gratitude, but also a bit of poorly placed pride. I really don’t want to think of myself as needing a doctor, but I do. I am not as well as I could be. I am not as healthy and strong as I want to be.
Perhaps Jesus as Doctor is an image under which I should be meeting with Him these days. I have become aware of deeper places needing healing and restoring. I’ve needed a kind of soul therapy that would have the inner effect that physical therapy has on the body. It hurts, but brings greater mobility, strength and flexibility. I see my need here.
Invitation. I sense God’s invitation to be in solitude much of this day up here at the Journey.
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13 NIV)
In this sentence, “not” relates to sacrifice and to “the righteous”, while Jesus’s desire seems to be for mercy and to call sinners to follow Him. Sacrifice is the mode in which the so-called righteous come to Jesus. They come asking, “What can I give You, Jesus? What can I do for You? No sacrifice is too great for You.” Jesus seems to respond, “I’m more interested in what you need and how I can mercifully help you. Will you let me be merciful to you? Will you let yourself need Me?”
The invitation, therefore, is to, quite literally, be at Jesus mercy today. I come to Him as Doctor and tell Him exactly how I feel–well or unwell. I am in His mercy. I am under His mercy. I am surrounded by His mercy.
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