But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.
All Commentaries on Matthew 12:7 Go To Matthew 12
Hilary of Poitiers
In order to show that this appearance of his work anticipated all the power of things to come, he added, “If you understood what the saying means: ‘I want mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would never have condemned the blameless.” The business of our salvation lies not in sacrifice but in mercy. When law is made void, we are saved by the goodness of God. If they had understood the grace of this statement, they would never have condemned the blameless. They would not have condemned the apostles whom they were going to accuse falsely, out of envy, of transgressing the law. When the ancient practice of sacrifices was stopped, the strangeness of mercy became more clearly known. Had this been known, they would not have thought that the Lord of the sabbath was confined by the law of the sabbath.