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Who Desires Mercy

David Wright

Presenter

David Wright

Lead/Senior Pastor, Hendersonville SDA Church

Recorded

  • October 6, 2012
    11:15 AM
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When was the last time that a limo caught your eye there's something about limousines that when they go by you just can't help but follow them on their way past I mean we are in Chicago with my family over one Christmas holiday and we were going to go into a restaurant and while we were waiting a limo pulls up out front and automatically you're thinking who is inside who is so important they want to eat at the same restaurant that we did well this guy by the Sinbad hopped out so you remember him from The Cosby Show days and he walked in Asked how long the wait was and he didn't want to wait that long either and got back in his limo and away he went but as a young man I thought wow. Because limos are driven for people that are important or for people that are trying to pretend they're important. Either way they always catch your eye you can't help but wonder who's inside but on this particular night there wasn't just one minute limo pulling up out front but one after the next after the next after the next they were lined up coming to this big party the place was jammed there were limos everywhere however this time the paparazzi wasn't there you know those ambiguous GA King cameramen that are always showing up when there is something happening but there's no paparazzi tonight because the words out nobody important is coming but the invited guests drive up with their rented status symbols the men in their greased back black hair with a pastry got a girl on their own arm and one by one by one they come but there's no side of the Guest Where is the guest of honor the parties are ready to go on. And eventually he arrives you see him in fact you can hear him a long way off chugging border and his old beat up Ford Taurus and he polls right up to the front and gets out no tux no girl just a walmart special blue light suit blue light special suit that I was supposed to go anyway but when the host sees him he goes back down down down the steps as if it's the president of the United States and welcomes him there the party can now begin the guest of honor is here. With me if you will I want to look at an unforgettable late night party recorded in Scripture and we find in Matthew Chapter 9 Matthew Chapter 9 now Matthew is so humble that in his account he does not let us know that he is the one throwing the party but if you look in Luke and Mark they are very sure they want to make sure that you understand that Matthew is throwing this party in is ornate mansion yet here in Matthew where will look this morning he doesn't say a word about it Matthew Chapter 9 beginning verse 9 before we get to the party Matthew Chapter 9 verse 9 as Jesus passed on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting on the at the Tax Office and he said to him Follow me so he arose and followed him now I've got to say this is a very gutsy call on the part of Christ because Need I remind you in case you forgot Matthew was a member of the hated tax collectors you know who the tax collectors word owns you. They were those wealthy Jews who collaborated with the despised Romans to raise the taxes of the land of Judea because you see it's a good deal they would assess an area like Hendersonville and the Romans would say it's worth about 500000 it's a good deal the bad part is the Romans would say we don't care how you get it just get it otherwise we'll take it out of your high so when they are under that kind of pressure they would to set exorbitant levels of taxes to make sure that enough came in but whatever came in above was simply gravy and so you can understand that tax collectors were not the most popular man in the village in fact they were despised hated as coal laborers or collaborators who had cut some kind of a deal with the devil himself so you gotta admit there's a pretty gutsy call on the part of Jesus to call that kind of man Hey Matthew yes you follow me I'm going to make you part of my inner circle of my closest while verse 9 again as Jesus passed on from there he saw a man named Matthew's the tax office and he said to him Follow me so he arose and followed him 1st to now I have been as Jesus sat at the table in the house behold that many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples noticed the word many many tax collectors and sinners again Matthew doesn't give us any indication that he's the one throwing the party but Luke is absolutely insistent that we know it's Matthew him self and because Matthew is a tax collector he's a very wealthy man he will not be wealthy for long but he's living in this opulent mansion. So Matthew so in the because the party in because verse 9 and verse 10 are juxtaposed side by side both Matthew's calling and this party we know 2 reasons 2 reasons it's Matthew's kind of subtle way of telling us why he's throwing the party Reason number one I believe he's overwhelmed with a deep and almost tearful gratitude to the Jesus of Nazareth who saved him from the life of under the table extortion and greed I just have to say thank you and Reason number 2 Matthew cannot wait to have his buddies with their concerts or girlfriends and their wives meet this very saying Jesus who obviously is a friend of tax collectors because when Mercy comes running for you you cannot keep that fact to yourself you've got to tell it now hit the pause button right there before we go on some like to use this story to say Jesus went to parties as if he drank and corrals from time to time quite on the contrary if you study the story the party was thrown for Jesus and while many sinners were there I don't think it was because they were into sin but rather were sick of sin and were looking for a way out for you with me so mad he was having a party a huge party broke the bank to say thank you and so verse 10 while Jesus was having dinner Matthew's house many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples noticed the coupling of those 2 categories tax collectors and centers whenever the Jews played word association Have you ever played word association I say a word and you respond the 1st thing that comes to your mind whenever they would play that game whenever they would say tax collector the winning response was always sinner if you say ferrous e st. If you say Roman heathen or pig if you say Samaritan half breed or dog but tax collector sinner every time always bound together those 2 so now all these tax collectors and sinners and other such social ecclesiastical outcasts are asking Matthew what happened to you what's going on I mean you've really changed in the course of that conversation Jesus invariably comes up he has to I mean while he was still a sinner Christ called me he probably has to say and as they talk they say we've got to meet this guy this is no stranger Curran's I was in someone's home just this week someone who made a decision last week and she was telling me about how many of her friends was saying what's going on and some of them are asking questions she's already handed out bible studies and brochures they want to know and so at this party talking with Jesus and guess what the fairest sees think they're invited wrong guys but they didn't know they just went ahead and showed up anyway wouldn't you know it and so verse 11 we read when the Fair see saw it fair sees when the fair See saw the party they said to His disciples Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners you see their party pooper it's like that old jingle every party has a pooper that's why we invited you party pooper that's why the fair See showed up they weren't invited drove up in their Honda Accords and then we have this Kodak moment you picture Jesus I love this look at this because the fair sees these hardy religious wouldn't be caught dead in the house of an unclean publican. But they've got to find a way to get inside that party somehow they can't go in so I imagine they find perhaps some giant window where the orange light is casting out on the ground and they come up on tiptoes and they try and get attention of a few of the people inside. Because fair sees always. Hey you're over there kind of how come we're coming here. They're a bunch of wimps won't take on Jesus but will pick on his followers instead but here comes that Kodak moment I love this moment because my mom was this way perhaps your mom's This way you lose of us a little bit this way you remember as a kid you were at a party or some social gathering and you were over here with your buddies and your mom was over there talking and laughing with all the other moms and you make one slip of a word and your mother comes bounding over what do you say young man something about mothers they have this rear end Tena and they pick up everything that is said and done and boom they can pounce on the situation and so we see the same idea Jesus has that antenna up and he hears their question and he answers it he says you had a question gentleman I love that about Jesus he'll never leave you alone by the way you'll never have to dangle alone if he's your master he's got a ear to were ever you are he's listening so verse 11 when the Fair see saw it they said the disciples Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners 1st well when Jesus heard that he that year is cock when Jesus heard that Jesus cut into the conversation and said to them and by the way when Jesus speaks against everyone's attention the party just goes quiet. And Jesus from across the room says hey guys out the window you have a question you can ask me and Jesus speaks in verse 12 Hey don't you know. Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick in fact go and learn since you guys were invited to this party anyway why don't you go home and I'm a Bible study go have a Bible say I want you to pull out the scrolls make sure you have the scroll of Hosea there is one the line in Hosea guys I wish you would meditate on for a while for the rest of the night perhaps go and learn what it means I desire mercy and not sacrifice for I not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance chain one paraphrase I read renders it this way I'm here to invite outsiders not coddle insiders say insiders want to be coddled because he says no way reminds me a little bit of the prayer that Martin Luther once prayed recorded for some great controversy he and I when I saw this I said thank you Luther I appreciate that I underline that I'd like to pray to he says this maggot of His mercy preserve me from a church in which there are none but saints who. You know what he means when he says it right awful church to be in that to be a part of it there's only saints in it trust me because when you and I are here right May God of His mercy preserve me from a church in which there are none but saints I desire to dwell with the humble the feeble the sick who know and feel their sins and who groan and cry continually to God from the bottom of their hearts to obtain his consolation and support just a few chapters back we have Jesus on the sermon I'm on the mound saying bless it are the poor in spirit those who recognize their spiritual impoverishment Blessed are those who mourn and who hunger and thirst after righteousness because that's the group that will be comforted they're the ones that will be filled for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and so here Jesus says I came to call centers. What kind of sinners do you suppose you know as far as I can tell there is no expressed limitations in Jesus' response he probably means no I'm just guessing but he probably means all sinners you know the type don't you heterosexual centers and homosexuals sinners ethical sinners and an ethical sinners alcoholic sinners and non alcoholic sinners Democrat sinners and Republican sinners something Jesus hung out with the Republicans he did not he hung out with the public and there's a difference independent centers probably white sinners black sinners Brown sinners yellow series Red sinners all of them rich and poor sinners Yep male and female sinners Yeah educated illiterate sinners Yes Christian sinners Jewish centers Muslim centers Hindu centers atheist centers Abnett centers Come on y'all you know the type all of them he came to call them all apparently when Mercy comes running it comes running for all of us which strikes me as a bit of good news doesn't it strike you that way and so he says hey guys at the window you were invited to go home and have a Bible study and look at up Hosea 66 figure out what God means when he says I desire mercy and not sacrifice good night did you know that that solitary line of Jose is quoted only twice in the New Testament both times by Matthew and the Gospel of Matthew both times on the lips of Jesus himself there must be a lot of punch packed into that powerful line and I imagine Matthew resonated with it perhaps more than the others the only other time we find new testaments in Matthew Chapter 12 is turn there Matthew Chapter 12 is take a quick look at this 1st one. Matthew Chapter 12 verse one at that time Jesus went to the grain fields on the Sabbath and as his disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and eat them and when the fair seas saw it they said to him Look your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath but Jesus said to them Have you not read what David did when he was hungry he and those who were with him how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him but only for the priest or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priest in the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless verse 6 yet I say to you if these guys could just get this if you and I could just get this in this place there is one greater then the temple verse 7 I wish you to have another Bible study if you have known what this means I desire mercy there it is I desire mercy not sacrifice you would not have condemned the guiltless for the Son of Man is Lord even of the South only knew 2 places in the New Testament we just read them and by the way the story is not over yet Jesus says Hey guys you're slowing me up I'm on my way to church today where is the synagogue going to worship with you and so on the next verse verse 9 when he had departed from there he went into their synagogue and behold there was a man with a withered hand and he asked him is that lawful to heal on the Sabbath and he wanted to answer this one and nail him and he said to them these guys are everywhere then he said to them if you any of you has a sheep come on guys tell me you got a sheep sheep wonders out of into the corral on the Sabbath tumble down to a pit and you're on your way to church and you look down in the pit and there's your prize sheep where you going to do on the Sabbath don't tell me you're not going to go they're going to go worship and leave your sheep there you crazy. You know climb down and get all dirty in the pit just to save the life of that little tiny fluffy sheep Now Jesus says verse 12 of how much more value there is a man than a sheep therefore I'm telling you it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath and he turns from those party pooper and says to the man Stretch out your hand and the man with the shrivelled hand realizes he's in the presence of divinity and in faith he stretched out his hand and just like that just like that he was completely restored and then verse 140 boy the fair seas went out and plotted against him how they might destroy him and it's clear from the gospel record from that point it's all downhill he's headed to his death by that single act of mercy Jesus signed his own death warrant mercy must be that important to him sign his execution orders there they are lazy gentlemen 2 stories one punch line I desire mercy and what's the truth about that punch line. That this is the great truth about mercy you can track this all the way through Jesus' life and the truth is that mercy elevates need above creed need over creed need over creed that means people above propriety what's proper No people more important human lives above human laws and mercy above justice did you get that mercy above justice now are you imagining this are we just making it up I don't think so in fact there's a stunning line go with me to James Chapter 2 if you find Hebrews James is right on the heels of Hebrews James Chapter 2 verse 13 James Chapter 2 verse 13 we read. For judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy mercy triumphs over judgement is not something for judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy mercy triumphs over judgment in fact the Greek word for judgment is Creasy says the New Testament translates it in one of 2 ways it can be translated either as judgment or justice so we could interchange that in equal reading would be mercy triumphs over Justice Now if you're like me you're already protests in the back of your mind but before you raise up in protest I want to be quick to affirm that we are not trying to create some sort of false dichotomy between mercy and justice we don't have to construct a straw man or a paper tiger I understand that mercy and justice are not antithetical they are not opposites they're not even opposed in fact they hold hands Psalms 85 declares that mercy and justice kiss so they're not at odds they're not opposites and that God gave us the law because he knew our great need he himself said the Sabbath was made for man not man for the 7 it was created because he knew our need our need for rest our need for a full day to commune with him and he knew the dangers of covering in line and cheating and stealing so because of our need he gave us the Creed yet too often we get it wrong and we elevate the Creed void of any connection to our needs are you with me void of any response to God and His love void of the fact that is a gift given by a loving God who only wants and desires was for our best good. So mercy and justice are not at odds but rather they hold hands however there are times when Mercy must overrule a strict legal istic sense of justice and right we need must be elevated above Creed when people are more important impropriety when Mercy must triumph over judgment think about this for a 2nd there are times when the letter of the law or the letter of the church manual or the letter of the school but handbook says strong now but there are times when Mercy must stand up it must stand up in that committee room it must stand up in that board room that staff room and say you just can't you just cannot mercy must override overrule a strict letter of the law not that somehow we can become lawless don't misunderstand but rather for the sake of making certain that we are never loveless There's a controversial line written over 100 years ago found in Volume 3 of the testimonies says this in reforms we would better come one step short of the mark than to go one step beyond it if anything hold back and in this next line and if there is an error at all let it be on the side next to what the people if you're going to err if you are going to want to be heir at all always err on the side of the people I desire mercy that's why and so Jesus what did he do he sided with the need of the people rather than the creed of the fair city you know if you stop and think about upholding the creed in the standard in the law in a legal istic Since can really become selfish and self-serving because my creed my rights are being violated Come on you fall in line quit embarrassing me you make me look bad not in my church we won't you know I've seen it time and time again we place our creed ahead of the individual's need. We merely drive people away sanctification is not the work of a moment takes a lifetime and don't pretend for a moment that God has not been merciful and patient with you because you see when Mercy triumphs over justice when self is put aside and out of mercy the need of the other person is put 1st when mercy and love and kindness are extended 1st does not make the law of no effect but rather it brings the change and obedience to the law that is genuine the Creed said this woman was caught in adultery and deserves to die but Jesus saw her need as an individual as a person who was hurt. And in His mercy He forgave her and then he said Go and sin no more it was not the creed that changed her life she knew she was sinful she need anybody to remind her of her sin but it was the sheer act of mercy that forever changed her life and placed in her heart I believe the desire then to obey Jesus said If you love me keep my commandments almost implying if you will if you don't love me don't bother the law is not there for strict conformity but as a means to show one's loving commitment to someone else so I'm opposed to the law of the creed of course not like David I delight in the law but I also believe that a legal istic obedience to the law does not bring glory to God because I can appear to obey him in my life but be far from him in my heart and a mere outward observance of the law is mockery to god I'll give you an easy example of that I have a smartphone a little bit doesn't always think it's so smart. And I got an update on my texting app some of the youths know that I'm not very savvy when it comes to my texting they've got what they call a texting Boehm for me but anyway that's where you're trying to respond to one person that goes to everybody anyway so on this update it said we can now provide for you on any day or with repetition or whatever you want seen any text that you want and those could be good I could remind people of meanings that we're going to have and I'll have to actually be thinking about all the set of all at once so that a few days before and the day before all it'll just boom go out but I don't want to send another text in bomb so I'll try this out on my wonderful wife Elizabeth OK so I pick up my phone and I write her some sweet little nothings while they're not nothings are for real I'm already intro. Dearest Elizabeth I LOVE YOU SO MUCH YOU'RE SUCH A what you know I go on and on I want to bears or and then I set it up on repeat see the same works that's what. First day I see her later in the day all that was so sweet it takes that you see and I really appreciated that Oh you're welcome I go on with my day and the next day I don't even think about it until I get a phone call from Elizabeth the. Hello what are you doing what I just got the exact same text from you that you sent yesterday oh yeah what are you up to she's smart she knows there's a difference between the genuine and going through the motions or you're with me yet we think that God is no smarter than Elizabeth and somehow we can fool him and we go through the motions and we try and look good on the outside but it's not coming from a genuine heart of surrender to God. And that's mockery to go I say I want to leaven says To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me I've had enough of your burnt offerings bring no more a few tile sacrifices he says and they could respond yes but there's a creed God that says yes but void of love is a mockery to God and when we have hold the standard void of love for the other person it's the same mockery to God and I can be as strict as I want to be on myself but in dealing with others I have to be patient Jesus could choose to overwhelm me with my sinfulness CONY but rather his model is not to overwhelm me but to slowly over time bring things to my attention in a gentle and patient way and I'm so thankful for that I mean sure a case could be made about our study of of Jesus had this party that hanging out with tax collectors and socializing with prostitutes could make for bad press for the Kingdom of God who doesn't understand them and so some could perhaps conclude you know what that kind of association will only encourage the immoral in their immorality but Jesus saw pasa Jesus elevated their need above the creed you know look at if I can win 2 or 3 more like Matthew it's worth the risk need over creed and so Jesus took his place we just read on the side of the people mercy elevates need over create our temptations do exactly the opposite Here's what we want to do we want to elevate creed or over need don't we I mean we just get it backwards and so we win our arguments where we live we win arguments in til we lose our community we prove the point tell us finally nobody to prove the point to any more creed one but it misted at last the need of the people and that's always so sad therapies always get it backwards. Dalton create over need they said in that story I don't care if you're hungry I don't care that man has a shrivelled arm what are we supposed to do do something about it on the Sabbath the Creed says this is the Sabbath nothing fair is always elevate create over need Jesus said You got it backwards I desire mercy not sacrifice How did Martin Luther pray May God of His mercy preserve me from a church in which there are none but sayings deliver me please from the self-righteous and that's why both Luther and Jesus chose to be on the side of the people made over creed if there's an error at all it'd be on the side of the people so my question since it's clear that mercy is the default setting for God I desire mercy what should be the default setting for God's people answer mercy but of course maybe you're saying OK that makes sense but how do we do that practically How do I live that out I found the question I'm trying to implement more and more so you've heard of some of these questions What would Jesus do and that's a good there's also the question what does the Bible tell me to do and that's instructive but I'm finding a question that's more powerful in my life what would mercy do what would be the most merciful response in this instance so I'm watching the kids and elbow catches the cereal bowl in the bowl falls on my lap and breaks all over the floor we have a huge mess I'm trying to say OK what would mercy do in this instance I want to give someone a piece of my mind that's not done right that's wrong I just want to give you a little piece of my mind so you can understand where I stand on this I want to give them a piece of my mind I'm going to so many piece of my mind don't have a brain left so I'm starting to learn Come on Dave calm down please what would be the most merciful response in this situation. Somebody calls me up it's been a long day I'm already worn out could you come and help us please I have to put the brakes on OK what would be the most merciful way to respond my employer know my employer he know my colleague what would be the most merciful response try afternoon I've got to get gas and we both got at the same time trying to get the last parking space. Was the most merciful response and I'm beginning to think it may sound kind of hokey but Jesus uses example to I'm going to think it has to do with how we treat our pets. I maybe right now the house on Saturday morning because I have a creed is that I don't like to be late and I look there and everybody's loaded up we're ready to go and there at the window is our dog Jack and he's got a major need can be laid by the star you can hold I'll be back in 4 hours is that being merciful to want to God's creatures that when I came across this and sons and daughters of God He who loves God will not only love his fellow men but will regard with tender compassion the creatures which God has made in quote so I'm hurrying out the house because I had his creed I don't want to be late and I see Jack and I with a major need and I have to think what would be the most merciful response to my dog no need right now gets elevated above creed I'd much rather as a pastor saying this is not even in my notes I'd much rather have you show up late every Sabbath than to be yelling and screaming at the family to be here on time are you with me if ya'll don't show up until 1030 next week that's OK what would be the most merciful way to respond well I overslept Why didn't set things out need over creed and I don't always ask it sometimes I just respond but I find when I don't ask it I'm the one that suffers. Because I'm giving these speeches sometimes in my mind of what I would say and I get more and more worked up and these gastric juices start squirting out things you know I'm talking about because I'm going to give them one of these pieces of my mind and I'm tied up in a knot in till I'm able to deliver the speech if you will and some of you may be saying well can we go too far with his mercy thing can we be too loving and too merciful I believe true love and true mercy sees the big picture and that is it looks at the need of the person at the need of the person is such that they would benefit from being pulled aside that's what mercy does but it's not because I'm rehearsing and practicing the speech and boy I'm going to give it to him I'm going to now I'm I got my proof text ready to go. But rather I ask this question will be the most were merciful response I go home and I pray about it 1st I ask of the Lord will humble me I ask Lord will you give me permission to go speak to this person and if he does the attitude is completely different go something more like this Now brother I may be mistaken about this and I know that there are areas in my life that are not fully in harmony with God's will but there's an area of concern that I have that I want to discuss with you and I say this as a Christian brother because I'm concerned about you and love you do you see the difference no longer does creed reign supreme but it's my concern for them and their need true love and mercy unselfishly thinks of the other person so I challenge you to try it what would mercy do in this particular instance with my wife with my children with my friends with strangers with my colleagues with my employees what would it do. Because the fact of the matter is when Mercy had a choice between creed or need at Calvary Now listen carefully when Mercy had a choice between creator needed Calvary mercy said we're going for need because the creed is he's dead meat she's dead she's sand the creed is clear you're lost but Mercy said no no no no no no when I'm around need goes over creed so mercy stretched out his arms and die for me knowing the creed but embracing my knee and at Calvary mercy triumphed over Justice Dear Heavenly Father how can we say thank you enough because the Creed said he's dead me she's a sinner they're lost and the creed is clear but in your overwhelming mercy you said no when I'm around the goes over creed and mercy you stretched out your arms and died for us knowing the creed but embracing our need May your treatment of us. Impact how we treat others today. And by your mercy help us to see people as you do. That to your Holy Spirit mercy may triumph in our love in Jesus name. This media was brought to you by audio 1st a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio 1st if you would like to listen to more service lead to visit W W W audio 1st or.

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