As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”Matthew 9:9-13 (NABRE)
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”Matthew 12:6-8 (NABRE)
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,Hosea 6:6 (NKJV)
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Laws of ritual purity dominated the culture of the Jews, from the temple precincts to the home and marketplace. Sacrifice and burnt offerings seemed to be the heart of true religion, along with avoidance of impure persons and objects.
Jesus transcended the division between pure and impure, clean and unclean to embrace “tax collectors and sinners,” Jews and Gentiles. Jesus demonstrated that the true sacrifice and oblation of the heart are divine mercy and love for all without discrimination.
The true temple of God is not a place, but a Person—Jesus Christ—who came to transform all persons into temples of the Holy Spirit.