I can’t shake this verse, it has been ringing in my mind since yesterday. I feel sad, I feel mad when I read these words. The Pharisees had just been giving Jesus a hard time because His disciples ate some grains of the field on the Sabbath. Can you imagine? They were indignant about a few grains from the fields of harvest!
Jesus responded with the scriptures, as He always did, since they had them memorized they were very familiar with the text, and then He revealed the heart of the matter. Verses 6-8 sum up His response with the truth, or bottom line we might say, of what a life devoted to the Lord would really be.
“But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
And from there He went into their synagogue. Does Jesus worship at your church? Or, do you worship in His church?
The Lord God stated in Isaiah that His house was to be a house of prayer. He spoke through Jeremiah again reminding them His house was to be a house of prayer but they had turned it into a robbers den. Mark and Luke both quoted Jesus stating that the temple of that day was not the house of prayer as God commanded but a robbers den.
Have things changed today? Unfortunately in many churches, no. But I do believe that the Spirit of the Lord is beginning to weigh the calling on the hearts of many today. I am reminded that “the church” is just a building. So we can’t blame “the church”. The church is made up of people. It is time for those who are called by His name to begin to walk the narrow path. It begins with us, one at a time.
Besides prayer, do we desire compassion? What exactly is that? Well, when I looked it up in the Greek it could be translated this way: I delight in mercy and pity toward others and not the obligation of sacrifice.
Of course, we don’t sacrifice animals today but that doesn’t make us “safe”. What have we set in place in our “religious routine” that really replaces that sacrifice to make us feel like we’ve been obedient? We might respond that we do have mercy and serve the needs of the hurting, the lost, the sick, the children, the divorced, those with addictions, etc. We’re on the altar team, we’re deacons, we’re elders, we give our time. Is that our “sacrifice”? Those are all important but they don’t replace the need for a relationship with Christ.
The bride in the Song of Solomon confesses that she has been so busy fulfilling all her duties to others that she hasn’t even taken care of her own matters. She’s tired, she’s worn out, she knows she needs what only the Bridegroom can give her. What can He give her that she can’t get anywhere else? Himself! He will fill her with His love that will transform her life. She will become like Him. She will desire the same things He desires, she will minister beside Him. (SOS 1:6-7)
Paul teaches us that our bodies are the temple of God, holy to the Lord. This is our first meeting place. Have we allowed Him into our lives to begin discarding the things that are “robbing” Him? Oh what freedom! Oh what joy! Oh what love!
Listen, my beloved, He is here! He is waiting to meet with you. Won’t you join me as we return to our “first love” and wait with longing in that secret place to meet with Him? To pour our love out on Him, break our Alabaster Box at His feet and anoint Him with the oil of our love and obedience!
Dear Lord, the lover of our soul, we love You and ask forgiveness for being distracted by so many things of this world. Forgive us for replacing a relationship with you for an identity of who we are because of what we “do” for You. We can’t do anything apart from You that counts for anything. Sure, I can give the homeless something to eat, but with You, I am able to give spiritual food as well as physical food. He will feel Your love and know that there is someone missing in his life and the desire to know You will begin to grow. Lord, we submit ourselves today to walk with You to where You will lead us, and that begins in our prayer closet, just the two of us for that sweet communion that can only be found in You. We love and adore You! Amen!