Go and Learn What This Means
In the 9th chapter of Matthew we read about Jesus and how he would hang out with the tax collectors and other sinners. This bothered the pharisees of His day and they asked Him about it. He then said, "Go and learn what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Aren't you glad that God is a merciful God? The pharisees of His day were anything but merciful. Unfortunately, today the pharisees are still with us. They are quick to condemn and would rather see people destroyed than saved. These same pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery. They began to quote from Moses' law, saying, "she ought to be stoned." Well, according to Moses' law, they were right! What they didn't understand was the truth found in John 1:17 that says, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Grace, truth, mercy - aren't you glad that Jesus came? He then told the pharisees that "he who is without sin could cast the first stone." The Bible says that they were all convicted by their consciences and left the scene. Jesus then said to her, "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?"
She said, No man, Lord. He then said to her, "Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more." Jesus could have stoned her, for he was without sin. He chose instead to show mercy towards her. Make no mistake. This isn't what some would call "greasy grace" or "sloppy agape." He said to her, "Go and sin no more." In other words, repent.
In 2 Chronicles chapter 33 we read of King Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. He chose to worship Baal and a host of other false gods. He practiced witchcraft, fortune-telling, sacrificed his sons to Molech, made an idol and put it in Solomon's temple and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, from one end to the other. He was then punished by God and was dragged off to Babylon by the Assyrians who put nose hooks in his nose and pulled him like an ox. It was then that he remembered the God of his fathers and prayed to him, begging for mercy. What did God do? He forgave him and showed mercy to him. He was restored to his throne in Jerusalem where he then destroyed all the idols that he had set up. Can you believe it? It's called mercy.
In the book of Jonah we read of the sins of Nineveh. God told the prophet Jonah, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah then went in the opposite direction because he wanted to see them destroyed. He was an Old Testament Pharisee. He didn't want them to repent and be saved. After spending 3 days and nights in the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and preached to the people of Nineveh who, in fact, repented. Jonah then gets mad at God and says, "Didn't I say this is what would happen? This is why fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. Therefore now, I beseech you, kill me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Then the Lord said to Jonah, "Is it good for you to be angry? Jonah needed to learn what this means, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice."
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:8-14