Daily Devotions


Day 125

To the Defence of the Disciples

Text: Matthew 9 : 9 - 13

The Pharisees knew whom they ought to attack. It certainly wasn’t Jesus. They knew that the disciples had begun their training not very long ago. Jesus was still recruiting people, and so the core of disciples was not yet firmly established. People like that would be easy prey for these predators.

However, they reckoned without knowledge that Jesus watched over His own most carefully. He, who knew the very thoughts of the scribes, would of course know that the Pharisees were critical of His associating with the tax collectors and sinners. Why would they not question Him directly?


Answering questions with questions was an accepted procedure. The Pharisees raised up what to them was a valid question. Why did Jesus associate with sinful people? To the Pharisees, holiness was achieved by keeping away from sinful people! The merest contact with them would cause contamination! This was their theological persuasion. Their approach to life and ministry was very different from that of Jesus!


Jesus offered a totally different perspective. On the outset, we must take note of how Jesus was consistent in citing the Scriptures as His source of authority. Let us ponder what He said more deeply.

“But go and learn what this means…”

The Pharisees prided themselves as scholars of the Torah. As far as Jesus was concerned, they had a lot to learn what the Law actually taught. He challenged them to return to the Scriptures and learn more about what the Lord wants from His people!

“I desire mercy and not sacrifice”

These words were cited from the Book of Hosea. The full text is cited here.

“For I desire mercy and not sacrifice.
And the knowledge of God more than
burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6:6

What was Jesus trying to say to the self-righteous Pharisees? The citation from Hosea is not without significance.

1. The Ministry of the Prophet Hosea

Hosea ministered to a spiritually ailing nation. They were steeped in ritualistic practices, but they knew very little about God. Hosea in his time urged Israel to know God better through a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures. Jesus also challenged the Pharisees to know their Scriptures far better than they did.

“Let us know;
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.”
Hosea 6:3a

2. God’s express desire

Ancient Israel felt that they knew God quite well. After all, did they not already have an elaborate system of worship? Hosea went on to plead with Israel to understand God as He had revealed Himself to them.

God did not want sacrifices, such as burnt offerings. In ancient Israel, and even in the days of Jesus, the focal point was the ritual of worship! Did they not understand that this was not the crux of their faith?

A religion that focuses only on the physical and ritualistic was not God’s original design! What had God wanted all along? The phrase “I desire mercy” is a good summary of what God wanted. To make things clearer, perhaps it would be good to look at what Moses taught Israel.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God
require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to
walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul, and to keep the commandments of
the Lord and His statutes which I command
you today for your good?”
Deuteronomy 10:12

An effective summary of this ancient Mosaic Law may be found in the Book of Micah.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, to love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

The self-righteous Pharisees showed that they either did not know the Scriptures, or that they didn’t care too much about what was taught. Where was the heart of mercy to people like the tax collectors and the sinners? Where was the love of God in their hearts towards those who were wretched and miserable because of the problem of sin in their lives? Where was the humility that they were to display in their lives? Their critical remarks against Jesus were anything but expressions of humility!


The people who need to repent from their sins were not going to be found in the temple. They were more likely to be found among their own acquaintances. They would need every bit of encouragement to draw near to God and to seek His forgiveness. Jesus was true to His Life’s mission. He had come to call sinners to repentance!