Love them Pharisees

In Hosea 6:6, God made a strong statement about his mercy, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Really what he was saying here is that he wants us to show kindness toward man, especially to the lowly and needy, which especially need it. Throughout Deuteronomy, it speaks of the love that we should have with God. In the gospels, the Pharisees thought that closeness with God came by keeping ceremonial traditions and their list of rules, but this is not what God wanted. God desires love toward one another. The greatest or chief command is to love God with all our heart and the second greatest is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37) If one is truly following God, he would love his brothers and not cause them harm. (See Exodus 20, 1 John 3:10–11) Jesus took “love your neighbor” to a new level. He spoke of it as a radical love. He said that we should love the ones who persecute and abuse you for no reason. (Matt 5:4)

In Matthew nine, Jesus gets off a boat and does many miracles. He heals a paralytic, forgives his sins (which only God can do), He shows his omniscience by “knowing the Pharisees thoughts”, and allows a low life tax collector (Matthew) to become one of his disciples. Right in front of the Pharisees, there were many opportunities for them to show God’s love to needy people. Sadly, they were not interested in showing kindness or concern for the needy, but rather concerned about observing their own list of rules.

The big thing that can get me worked up (and causing me not to love) is seeing or hearing about someone who is being legalistic like the Pharisees. Outwardly, the Pharisees seemed to do the right things by following their rules, but in their hearts, they had no desire to serve God. Loving others is hard, but this world needs to see Christ’s love. His love can be seen as we show kindness, care, and concern to individuals who are struggling in this life. As we live our lives, we need to be sensitive to the Spirits leading, because there are many people out in the world who are hurting and who are looking for someone to love them. Sure it is easier to act like a Pharisee, by looking spiritual on the outside, than it is to love one another, but this is the way God chose, “he desires mercy and not sacrifice”.

An Unique Birth

The virgin birth is foundational to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. This is what makes it possible for him to be 100% God and 100 % man. Genesis chapter three is the first prophecy of the virgin birth of the Messiah (“her seed”). Isaiah 7:14 (NASB) says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (meaning, “God is with us”).” When Gabriel told Mary that she was pregnant with this promised child, she questioned him by asking, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Mary did not even understand how this would be possible. She knew that it takes a man and a woman to have a child. Gabriel answered and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

With the virgin birth, Jesus was able to have a sinless human nature that was tempted in all ways like other men, yet he did not give in. He was also able to overcome Satan, empathize with man as his high priest, and to be our unblemished lamb that was able to die on the cross for our sins.