Bible reading plan Bible reading plan

Change The Record!

02 July 2023

A DJ with decks

By Julian Briggs

 

Throughout this week of reading Matthew 8-12, we see Jesus bring in a new narrative both in word and action.  The Pharisees and some of the religious leaders had one way of thinking and talking (based on a strict religious zeal for the law) that often expressed judgement and condemnation, but Jesus speaks of mercy forgiveness and restoration.

 

A key verse for me comes from Matthew 9:13 in Jesus’ reference from Hosea 6:6 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  This is also partly repeated in 12:7!  I love how Jesus comes to the needy because he desires to show mercy.  Jesus, the answer for a fallen world, finds himself having to explain his mission to those who are quick to judge, point the finger, or just try and cancel him out.

 

It’s easy for us to fall into this attitude towards others too if we’re not paying attention to ourselves and the kingdom we belong to and this, surprisingly, got me thinking about DJs and what they do!

 

In the UK, there’s a well-known dance DJ called Judge Jules, and sometimes my wife, Paula, would jokingly assign that name (Judge Jules) to me (Julian), and not because of any DJ-ing capacity I might have, but because I was exhibiting a wrong judgmental attitude… if you can believe it?  Thankfully, I was smart enough to realise it was a nice way of her telling me to change the record!

 

Whilst ‘Change the record’ isn’t a phrase I hear or use as much these days, it’s a pretty simple one to understand as an effective put down without having to say to someone ‘shut up and say something different!’  The record, of course, refers to the back-on-trend vinyl record that DJs use to mix on two turntables and ultimately, it’s their job to fade one track out as the other fades in, cross-fading old into new.

 

Jesus came to fulfil the law and usher in a new glory that would never fade: to ‘turn the tables’.  He used a whip when needed, even comparing his message to a sword that divides (Matt 10); a message of mercy that would bring much division and disruption and was for so many too jarring a transition to comprehend because they hadn’t really understood where the old was pointing.  Jesus strategically quotes the words of the Old Testament prophet Hosea to show that mercy, forgiveness and restoration was God’s heart all along: could they still not see it?  Hadn’t anything changed?

 

Paul, or Saul as he was at the time, is one of the starkest examples of the power of mercy over judgement in his jarring conversion, coming face to face with what was, to his religious thinking, the prickly truth.  He later went on to say in Romans 12:1,

 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.”  

 

This verse plainly shows us that true sacrifice can only be outworked through a revelation of God’s mercy, and not through a religious ritual.

 

Jesus shows us what mercy-led sacrifice looks like in Matthew 10.7:

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

 

So, what can we take away from all this? Let’s allow those words “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” to permeate our hearts and align them to his heart; let’s allow the word do its work in calibrating our lives to the message of the advancing kingdom … and let’s (in a nutshell) …

 

Talk the new talk, walk the new walk, maybe dance the new dance and if that doesn’t sound like you at the moment, be a good DJ and change the record!