Jack loves guitars and football, really. Now, I promise, I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to bring this about, but the guy is obsessed with these two things that also happen to be very near and dear to my heart. As far as Christy and I can figure, Jack just likes me, and as a result, he likes what I like. If you had dropped by our house during an afternoon this past Fall, you would have found our bright-eyed toddler gawking at the gridiron on the TV screen, strumming his ukulele with all his might and singing at the top of his lungs a song about football. No kidding. (Don’t Believe Me?) The kid loves me; and as a result, he loves what I love. He’s into my passions and he wants to do what I do. Now, I know this will probably change. As Jack matures and grows, he is going to have to find his own way, and I’m cool with that. He may never be a guitar player or a football player and I honestly don’t want that for him at all unless it’s what he wants. One day he may go completely outside of my box and want a soldering iron or a set of tools. Who knows, but until then, part of his childlike love for his dad results in just loving the same things I love, and I have to say it’s a sweet part of this stage of who he is.
In chapter 9 of his Gospel, Matthew got the chance to tell us what had to be his favorite story: his own. Matthew was a tax collector, which meant he was a part of that class of Israeli society that was hated as traitors and thieves. Sure, he had money, but probably not much more than that. No upstanding citizen wanted to be his friend. If he had a daughter, no nice Jewish boy would marry her. He was probably considered to be something like a drug dealer to us: well-dressed scum. Jesus didn’t think so, though. He wanted Matthew. Jesus loved him, and when he made his way to Matthew’s tax collecting booth and said, “Follow me,” Matthew could see that love in Jesus’ eyes. He immediately left his old life for something totally different. Matthew was so struck by the love of Jesus that he threw a big dinner party for all the folks he knew. He wanted them to get to look into those accepting, loving, compassionate eyes as well.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus was a party filled with bums and outlaws they pulled His disciples aside and said, “What is He doing hanging out with sinners?” Jesus heard the question and said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
After Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means,” He then quoted the Old Testament. Specifically, the verse comes form Hosea 6. The part that says “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” is really interesting. See, the Hebrew word that is translated ‘mercy’ there is the word “Hesed” which is very difficult for us to understand. It’s one of those words that’s so jam-packed with meaning that we need a paragraph to translate it. John Wycliffe actually invented the word ‘lovingkindness’ to help us get our minds around it. It’s an Old Testament-y world for ‘love’ but it’s more than love. It’s the covenantal love God promised He would always have for His people. It’s the mushy love of this tender, compassionate God. It’s contractual and it’s sentimental. Sally Lloyd-Jones, who wrote “The Jesus Storybook Bible” translates it best when she calls it God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
These Pharisees didn’t like Jesus hanging out with sinners, but Jesus basically said, “Guys, this is who I came for. In fact, Remember in the Old Testament when the Father said through Hosea, “I don’t want you’re sacrifices, I want your Hesed.” You fellas need to go and learn what that means.” Jesus came for sinners. He loves them with that crazy, unbreaking lovingkindness. If we’re are going to have a childlike love for Jesus, we need to love what He loves. We need to be into what He’s into. We need to love and pursue the outcasts, the broken, the folks other people hate. We need to have Hesed like He has it. He loves us like that, and He wants us to love like that too.