Learn What That Meaneth Matt 9:13 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Twice in Matthew Jesus quoted Hos 6:6 to the Pharisees. Hos 6:6 says, “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” In Matt 9:13, he tells the Pharisees to go and “learn what that meaneth.” And in Matt 12:7 he said, “if ye had known what this meaneth…” Obviously, they didn’t go and learn what that meaneth or they would have known what this meaneth.
So, today, Lord willing, by God’s grace we are going to learn what that meaneth. We’ll start with Hosea. Looking at the context of Hos 6:6, we find the following:
The trouble with Israel is that they wouldn’t turn unto their God [Hos 5:4]. The spirit of whoredoms was in them and they didn’t know the Lord. Well, that’s how it was with the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, also. They were an evil and adulterous generation [Matt 12:39; 16:4]. And they didn’t know the Lord [Jn 1:10-11; Jn 8:48].
Israel was proud [Hos 5:5] and pride was one of the Pharisees’ problems [Mk 7:22].
Israel’s approach to God was to seek him with their flocks and herds [Hos 5:6]. But the Lord couldn’t stand their sacrifices [Is 1:11-20]. Neither could Jesus stand the sacrifices of the Pharisees [Jn 2:13-16; Matt 21:12-13].
The Lord said, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face,” [Hos 5:15]. And that’s exactly what Jesus did after his resurrection.
However, in Hos 6:1, Israel said, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord.” They said, “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord,” [Hos 6:3].
So, the Lord replied and said that their goodness was as short-lived as the early dew [Hos 6:4]. He said, “I hewed them by the prophets: I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy [that is, Ephraim and Judah’s] judgments are as the light that goeth forth,” [Hos 6:5]. In other words, the judgments against them were as plain as day. Jesus is the light of the world.
Then in Hos 6:6, the Lord said, “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Mercy comes with humility and obedience in response to the truth, as in Hos 6:5 and as in 1 Sam 15:22-23. Sacrificing makes a man think that he is right. By a sacrifice, Saul thought he was right, too [1 Sam 15:13, 20]. He wasn’t [1 Sam 15:24].
And the knowledge of God comes with returning to the Lord [Hos 6:1] and acknowledging their offense [Hos 5:15]. That’s what that meaneth.
But Israel didn’t get mercy because they transgressed the covenant, dealt treacherously against the Lord, and worked iniquity [Hos 6:7-8]. Their priests murdered in the way by consent [Hos 6:9]. They were like Cain [Gen 4:8]. The Pharisees were just like them in Jesus day [Jn 8:44].
So, when Jesus quoted Hos 6:6 in Matt 9:13 he wanted the Pharisees to realize that they were in need of mercy. They thought the sinners were the publicans and sinners with Jesus. They didn’t realize that they were sinners. And to get mercy they needed to acknowledge this.
They thought they were righteous and didn’t need the Lord. They weren’t righteous. Jesus said that men would have to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees to enter the kingdom of heaven [Matt 5:19-20]. The Pharisees were sacrificing as if God was pleased with their sacrifices. He wasn’t anymore than he was with Israel’s sacrifices in Hosea’s day.
In Matt 12:1-8 the Pharisees had used the law to wrongly accuse the disciples [Matt 12:2]. But Jesus rebuffed their accusations with the TRUTH [Matt 12:3-6]. The truth was that the Pharisees were doing things that were “not lawful upon the sabbath day.” Matt 12:2 applied to them. Check the scriptures; Jesus cleansed the temple in Matt 21:12-13 on the sabbath!! They needed mercy.
When the Lord said, “in this place is one greater than the temple,” [Matt 12:6] to those Pharisees who put so much stock in their sacrifices at the temple [Matt 23:16-22], he was turning them to the Lord [Matt 12:8]. He said, “ye would not have condemned the guiltless,” because a man seeking mercy doesn’t condemn others, he cries for mercy [Lk 18:11-13]. Pharisees condemn others, even the guiltless, but not themselves.
In Matt 9 and 12 the Pharisees looked down on the publicans, sinners, disciples and Jesus, just like Cain looked down on Abel. Instead of condemning the guiltless, they should have pled for mercy [Lk 18:13], after acknowledging the truth that they were sinners. You must turn to God as a guilty sinner if you want mercy [Ex 34:6-7].