God is love
Reading: Matthew 12: 1-8
Additional reading: Hosea 6: 6
About 3500 years ago, Moses received various rules from God.
Some of them were about how to offer a sacrifice to God.
(2) Then about 500 years later, Samuel realized what God really wanted is that people obey God.
God is still speaking.
So God desires obedience more than sacrifices: 1 Samuel 15:22
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
So Samuel taught people to obey God.
In order to help people obey God, he started to teach people to listen to God.
They need to hear in order to obey and do God’s will.
So Samuel invited people to wait and listen to God.
He also trained people to worship and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then about 800 years later, Hosea realized something more.
He realized what was like to obey God.
(3) So Hosea talked about what God wanted.
He said that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. (Hosea 6: 6)
He taught people what God wanted so that they could obey.
God wants love, mercy, kindness, goodness and compassion.
God wants to see people practice mercy, kindness and good will towards all people.
Hosea understood that otherwise, they would be conquered and sent into exile.
They need to know and follow the compassionate and merciful of God in order to live peacefully.
God can help them.
Then about 800 years later, Jesus came and practice what Hosea taught.
He showed everybody how to practice the love of God.
We see his examples at Matthew 9: 9-13 and Matthew 12: 1-8.
Here Pharisees accused Jesus and his disciples for not practicing their religious rules that they made reading the Bible.
They accused Jesus saying:
1) Why do you eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’? (Matthew 9: 11)
2) Why are your students doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath? Why do they pick some heads of grain and eat them? (Matthew 12: 1)
Then Jesus responded saying what Hosea already said: that is,
God desires compassion, not sacrifice. (Hosea 6:6)
Jesus was saying:
In order to practice this teaching, Jesus eats with sinners and heals the sick.
In order to practice this teaching, Jesus doesn’t give up on sinners.
In order to practice this teaching, Jesus didn’t say anything to his hungry disciples.
They were eating because they were hungry.
Jesus understood that God is merciful.
So, Jesus taught them again and again about what Hosea says:
God desires compassion, mercy and kindness.
In a sense Jesus was saying to them:
“Pharisees, don’t be too righteous to practice compassion and forgiveness.
In fact, love is more important than sacrifice.
Mercy is more important than even tithing. (Matthew 23:23)
Love is more important than all the teachings of Moses.
So don’t try to judge others based on the teachings of Moses.
Don’t judge others because they could not follow the teachings of Moses.
Don’t accuse anyone.
Instead follow this compassionate God.
Chose to love and forgive.”
But they tried to force Jesus to follow their religious regulations.
They were holding on to their rules and regulation too much that they could not follow the compassionate God.
But if they really know God, they would be more loving, forgiving, flexible, and merciful.
When God is working in their hearts, they will be like God.
When they understand how much God is compassionate, they will be busy teaching God’s grace and love.
They will be busy teaching God’s everlasting compassion and forgiveness and love.
They will be busy blessing all people.
Jesus came to explain that God is love and compassion.
God gave his only Son to explain that God is love.
So following this compassionate God, Jesus gave his life so that people may have another chance in life.
Jesus gave his life so that people could return to God and experience God’s love.
Jesus became the Lamb of God in order to take away sins of the world.
Being risen from the death, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus continually teaches people to experience that God is love.
Jesus saves people and helps them to know that God is love.
Then everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3: 16)
In this way Jesus shows how much God loves the world.
Then through the Holy Spirit Jesus enables more people to live like him mercifully.
Jesus, you are more compassionate than we could ever imagine.
May we know and experience how much you love us.
Help us to love you and follow you.
Help us to practice what you have practiced.
In your name we pray.