“But you would not have condemned those who aren’t guilty if you knew the meaning of this Scripture, ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’”Matt. 12:7, including quote from Hos. 6:6
There is so much to the heart of God that is easy for us to miss when our focus gets too narrow. It’s like the phrase, “You can’t see the forest through the trees.” This is seen throughout the twelfth chapter of Matthew. That they would help a sheep but let a man suffer makes this clear.
In their acts of ritual towards God, they had become callous to the heart of God, which is merciful.
This is seen in the word Hesed, which is here translated as merciful (although often translated as lovingkindness). Dr. Walter Kaiser spoke about how much we miss when we translate this word into English.
It has been translated as the following (Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon); goodness, kindness, mercy, piety, lovingkindness, and deeds of kindness (you can check out a lexicon for more information).
Jesus also speaks about good fruit and bad fruit as being emblematic of the condition of the tree. If our hearts aren’t full of lovingkindness, then lovingkindness won’t be seen in the fruit we bear. The fruit of the Spirit in us (Gal. 5:22-23) will eventually bear outward fruit.
What does this have to do with walking along the multicolored road? Everything! How can someone is more concerned about a sheep that has fallen in a ditch than it is a person who has been suffering with something that can be healed?
Yet I have seen people who seem to be more consumed by the ministries they are a part of than the people the ministries are there to reach.
I remember speaking to a case manager at a Boston hospital during a challenging inpatient admission. She shared that sometimes doctors lose sight of the fact that patients are people. I think that Christians have the same problem sometimes (with the people they reach out to).
Hesed — lovingkindness and so much more — is what God desires from us.
He seeks it from us more than the sacrifices we are going to make. What is the Greatest Commandment? Love God and love others. How can we see people around us struggle and suffer and do nothing and say that we have lovingkindness towards them? And how can we even know that others are struggling and sufferings if we are not in relationship with them.
Jesus specifically went to those who were struggling and met them where they were at. He showed lovingkindness to the unloveable (us), with a desire that we would do the same.