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Mercy: The antidote for legalism

There will be three sermon texts for this coming Lord’s Day. The primary text is Hosea 6:1-6. Matthew 9:9-13 and Matthew 12:1-8 will serve as our secondary texts.

In Matthew 9, Jesus quotes from Hosea 6 while addressing the Pharisees. He says to them, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'” With these words, Jesus was addressing the hypocrisy and legalism of the Pharisees by sending them back to Hosea 6:6. Jesus was essentially saying, “If you knew what Hosea 6:6 means, then you would not be criticizing me for eating with tax collectors and sinners.”

Matthew 9 is not the only place where Jesus quotes from Hosea 6:6. Matthew 12:7 is another example of Jesus quoting from Hosea 6:6. In a very similar situation, when the Pharisees were criticizing the way Jesus was behaving, Jesus told them that if they knew what Hosea 6:6 meant, they would not be condemning the guiltless.

Hosea 6:6 is therefore a powerful verse. Since Jesus recommended it so strongly to the Pharisees, we would do well to learn the meaning for ourselves. As we dive into the meaning of this verse this coming Lord’s Day, we’re going to see that Hosea 6:6 is the antidote for legalism. Hosea 6:6 brings us into direct confrontation with the spirit of hypocrisy and self-righteousness. Therefore, Hosea 6:1-6 is a good passage for us to consider (and re-consider) as we attempt to keep the sins of hypocrisy and legalism far from our lives and our church.