11/29 Matthew 12:7

7 And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.

The religious leaders were watching Jesus and his disciples to try to find reason to accuse them of violating God's law. One Sabbath, Jesus' disciples passed by a wheat field and plucked some of the grain heads to eat. When the Pharisees saw this, they accused them of breaking the Sabbath. The Pharisees would have seen it as harvesting and winnowing the grain. They were being that petty in their interpretation of the law.

Jesus' disciples were hungry. The law allowed a traveler to take from another's field just enough for himself to eat. That wasn't the problem. It was what the Pharisees saw as work on the Sabbath that was the issue. Jesus reminded them that King David violated a more serious law by eating the sacred Temple bread and giving it to his hungry men (1Samuel 21:1-6). He also reminded them that the priests work in the Temple on the Sabbath and are not violating it. With those two illustrations He was describing His disciples as spiritual warriors in God's service.

Then Jesus turned the tables and told His accusers that they were the ones violating the Word of God. Hosea had written that God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). In the Hosea passage, God was accusing the people of forsaking their love for God and just going through religious routines. Jesus accusers had not learned the truth of that passage. The Word of God put them in their place. Love of God and mercy toward man go hand in hand.

Consider: Is your love for God expressed in your mercy toward others?