Monday, December 17, 2012

[mercy not sacrifice]

From Richard Beck's blog, a simple post called "Jesus in Microcosm" giving us two verses contrasting the way of sacrifice and holiness with the way of mercy:

Leviticus 13.45-46
Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!" As long as they have the disease they remain unclean.

They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.

Matthew 8.2-3a
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

And Jesus reached out his hand and touched him.

Jesus could have just told a parable about lepers, or added another paragraph or two in the sermon on the mount:
"You have heard it said, 'Lepers must live outside of the camp,' but I tell you, live outside the camp with them!"

That would be pretty extreme. Due to the emphasis on purity and holiness,the people of Jesus' day would have had trouble living with lepers anywhere, especially the religious leaders. I might have trouble with that too, as I like a clean house with all the comforts. And invariably, it would be possible to 'live in the camp with them' while still keeping a distance.

But Jesus was talk and walk all in one. The life he lived showed us the better way. He reached his hand right through the rules to touch the man with leprosy.

What rules do we need to reach through to touch the lives of others? How can we embody Jesus' teaching that God desires mercy, not sacrifice?

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