"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
— Matthew 9:13
This verse captured me yesterday. The study notes in my Bible talk about Jesus desiring us to be merciful, but I didn't see this verse that way.
When he says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," I believe its also shows the transfer of salvation from our hands to his. The Jews knew sacrifice well. From their time in Egypt and passed down through the generations since, animal sacrifices were their path to forgiveness. Yet even then it wasn't the perfect solution God desired. (See also 1 Sam. 15:22, Psalm 51:16, Prov. 21:3)
I believe Jesus is also saying here that the time of man's role in forgiveness was futile and had come to an end. Jesus had come as prophesied, and now his mercy would step in. In these five words, the source and method of our forgiveness shifted from our hands to his, literally and symbolically with the nails in his hands.
Just some thoughts for reflection...