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Matthew 9:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I will have mercy, and not sacrifice - Quoted from 1 Samuel 15:22. These are remarkable words. We may understand them as implying,

    1st. That God prefers an act of mercy, shown to the necessitous, to any act of religious worship to which the person might be called at that time. Both are good; but the former is the greater good, and should be done in preference to the other.

    2dly. That the whole sacrificial system was intended only to point out the infinite mercy of God to fallen man, in his redemption by the blood of the new covenant. And

    3dly. That we should not rest in the sacrifices, but look for the mercy and salvation prefigured by them. This saying was nervously translated by our ancestors, I will mild-heartedness, and not sacrifice.

Go ye and learn - ולמד צא tse velimmed

, a form of speech in frequent use among the rabbins, when they referred to any fact or example in the Sacred Writings. Nothing tends more to humble pretenders to devotion than to show them that they understand neither Scripture nor religion, when, relying on external performances, they neglect love to God and man, which is the very soul and substance of true religion. True holiness has ever consisted in faith working by love.

I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners - Most of the common editions add, εις μετανοιαν, unto repentance; but this is omitted in the Codex Vatic. and Bezae, sixteen others, both the Syriac, both the Persic, Ethiop. Armen. Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, all the Itala except three, the Vulgate, Clemens Roman, Origen, Basil, Jerome, Augustin, Ambrose, and Barnabas. The omission is approved by Mill and Bengel. Griesbach leaves it out of the text.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But go ye and learn … - To reprove them, and to vindicate his own conduct, he appealed to a passage of Scripture with which they ought to have been acquainted: “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,” Hosea 6:6. This is not a declaration on the part of God that he was opposed to “sacrifices” or “offerings for sin;” for he had appointed and commanded many, and had therefore expressed his approbation of them. It is a Hebrew mode of speaking, and means, “I prefer mercy to sacrifice;” or, “I am more pleased with acts of benevolence and kindness than with a mere external compliance with the duties of religion.” Mercy here means benevolence or kindness toward others. “Sacrifices” were offerings made to God on account of sin, or as an expression of thanksgiving. They were commonly bloody offerings, or animals slain; signifying that the sinner offering them deserved to die himself, and pointing to the great sacrifice or offering which Christ was to make for the sins of the world. “Sacrifices” were the principal part of the worship of the Jews, and hence came to signify “external worship in general.” This is the meaning of the word here. The sense in which our Saviour applies it is this: “You Pharisees are exceedingly tenacious of the “external” duties of religion; but God has declared that he prefers benevolence or mercy to those external duties. It is proper, therefore, that I should associate with sinners for the purpose of doing them good.”

I came not to call the righteous … - No human beings are by nature righteous, Psalm 14:3; Romans 1:18-32; Romans 3:10-18. The Pharisees, however, “pretended” to be righteous. Christ might have meant by this answer that it was not the design of his coming to cal such persons to repentance, knowing that they would spurn his efforts, and that to a great extent they would be vain; or, more probably, he meant to affirm that his proper and only business was to call to repentance such people as he was now with. He came to seek and save such, and it was his “proper business,” therefore, to associate with them.

Repentance - See the notes at Matthew 3:2.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Some time after his call, Matthew sought to bring his old associates to hear Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Those who are effectually brought to Christ, cannot but desire that others also may be brought to him. Those who suppose their souls to be without disease will not welcome the spiritual Physician. This was the case with the Pharisees; they despised Christ, because they thought themselves whole; but the poor publicans and sinners felt that they wanted instruction and amendment. It is easy, and too common, to put the worst constructions upon the best words and actions. It may justly be suspected that those have not the grace of God themselves, who are not pleased with others' obtaining it. Christ's conversing with sinners is here called mercy; for to promote the conversion of souls is the greatest act of mercy. The gospel call is a call to repentance; a call to us to change our minds, and to change our ways. If the children of men had not been sinners, there had been no need for Christ to come among them. Let us examine whether we have found out our sickness, and have learned to follow the directions of our great Physician.
Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 398

In His teaching, Christ sought to educate and train the Jews to see the object of that which was to be abolished by the true offering of Himself, the living Sacrifice. “Go ye,” said He, “and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” He presented a pure character as of supreme importance. He dispensed with all pomp, demanding that faith that works by love and purifies the soul, as the only qualification required for the kingdom of heaven. He taught that true religion does not consist in forms or ceremonies, outward attractions or outward display. Christ would have taken these to Himself if they had been essential in the formation of a character after the divine similitude. But His citizenship, His divine authority, rested upon His own intrinsic merits. He, the Majesty of heaven, walked the earth, shrouded in the robe of humanity. All His attractions and triumphs were to be revealed in behalf of man, and were to testify to His living connection with God. FE 398.1

Christ's prediction regarding the destruction of the temple was a lesson on the purification of religion, by making of none effect forms and ceremonies. He announced Himself greater than the temple, and stood forth proclaiming, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He was the one in whom all the Jewish ceremony and typical service was to find its fulfillment. He stood forth in the place of the temple; all the offices of the church centered in Himself alone. FE 399.1

In the past, Christ had been approached through forms and ceremonies, but now He was upon the earth, calling attention directly to Himself, presenting a spiritual priesthood, and placing the sinful human agent at the footstool of mercy. “Ask, and it shall be given you,” He promised; “seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it. If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: ... and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.” FE 399.2

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Ellen G. White
Medical Ministry, 183

Have you tried to be unselfish, to be kindly, to make your words and actions fragrant? Can those in your charge look up to you as true Christians? You are fathers. Will you ask yourselves if you would be willing to have your children treated as you have treated some of the youth in your charge? From the light given me, I know that there are some bearing responsibilities here who, unless converted, will never see the kingdom of heaven. It pains me to know that in the life practice they are not revealing wisdom, faith, and love for perishing souls. The treatment that some youth have received has given them hardly a ray of warm, genial friendship. They need an experience altogether different from the experience they are receiving in their association with men who ought to know God. MM 183.1

At times you have encouraged the workers to think that their wages would be raised, and then you have failed to fulfill the promise made. Is this letting your light shine forth in good works? Is such service acceptable to the Master? Is this kind of work to continue in God's institutions, which were established to do a work for the saving of the souls of those connected with them? You have restitution to make for wages as long as possible withheld. Did you not know when withholding these wages that you were not doing as you would be done by? Why will men profess to be Christians, and yet follow the sharp practices of the enemy? He will flatter your vanity. He will try to deceive you, to lead you to think that the course you are pursuing is the best course to follow in dealing with minds. But you will be without excuse in allowing him to deceive you; for God has marked out a plain path for you to follow.... MM 183.2

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Ellen G. White
Medical Ministry, 50

There will always be duties which have to be performed on the Sabbath for the relief of suffering humanity. This is right, and in accordance with the law of Him who says, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” But there is danger of falling into carelessness on this point, and of doing that which it is not positively essential to do on the Sabbath. MM 50.1

Unnecessary traveling is done on the Sabbath, with many other things which might be left undone. “Take heed,” saith the Lord, “to all thy ways, lest I remove My Holy Spirit because of the lax regard given to My precepts.” “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Bear in mind the charge to remember. Do not carelessly forget, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work.” In this time all the duties necessary to prepare for the Sabbath are to be done.—Letter 51, 1901. MM 50.2

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Ellen G. White
Medical Ministry, 251

Let not a large number fold their hands, saying, “Oh, yes, let such and such ones go into untried fields,” while they themselves put forth no interested, devoted, self-denying labor, and expect the work the Lord has committed to them to be done by proxy. There are those who, if they will deny self and lift the cross, will find that God will communicate with them as verily as He did with Paul and Barnabas. These are representatives of what very many should be. “The scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.”—Special Testimonies Relating to Medical Missionary Work, page 8 (1893). MM 251.1

True sympathy between man and his fellowman is to be the sign distinguishing those who love and fear God from those who are unmindful of His law. How great the sympathy that Christ expressed in coming to this world to give His life a sacrifice for a dying world! His religion led to the doing of genuine medical missionary work. He was a healing power. “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,” He said. This is the test that the great Author of truth used to distinguish between true religion and false. God wants His medical missionaries to act with the tenderness and compassion that Christ would show were He in our world.—Manuscript 117, 1903. MM 251.2

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 480.1

Look Away From Self—Look away from yourself to Jesus. You may acknowledge that you are a sinner, while at the same time it is your privilege to recognize Christ as your Saviour. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. Difficulties and suggestions will be presented by Satan to the human mind, that he may weaken faith and destroy courage. He has manifold temptations that can come trooping into the mind, one succeeding another; but to closely study your emotions and give way to your feelings is to entertain the evil guest of doubt, and by so doing you entangle yourself in perplexities of despair. You may inquire, What shall I do under these terrible suggestions? Expel them from the mind by looking at and contemplating the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. Do not exalt your feelings and tell of them and worship them whether good, bad, sad, or encouraging.—Letter 41, 1893. 2MCP 480.1

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