Ver. 12,13. Mark and Luke, in the places before mentioned, have the same answer, only leaving out these words, Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, quoted from Hos_6:6. Our Saviour’s reply to the Pharisees, to him that duly considers it, will appear very smart.
1. They were a generation that laid all religion upon rituals, sacrifice, and traditions.
2. That justified themselves, Luk_16:15, and thought they needed no repentance.
Saith our Saviour, I am the spiritual Physician. With him would they have the physician to converse, but with such as are sick? Those that are whole (as the Pharisees account themselves) think they have no need of my coming amongst them. By their peevishness at the acts of mercy which I do (and those of the highest mercy too, healing souls) they show that they do not understand what Hosea (a prophet acknowledged by themselves) long since taught them, that the Lord desired mercy before sacrifice; for that appeareth to be the sense of not sacrifice in that text, both by the next words, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings, and by the many precepts by which God declared that he did desire sacrifices.
For I am not come to call the righteous, that is, those who are swelled in an opinion of their own righteousness but (sensible) sinners to repentance: first to repentance, then to the receiving remission of sins through me, and eternal life.