I guess I should explain the term ‘chesed’ or ‘hesed’. It’s the word found in biblical Hebrew and is all over the Hebrew scriptures. It is often translated as simply “love” or “lovingkindness” or even “mercy” depending upon the translation and the context. But it’s real meaning is more like “steadfast love” and even “enduring love”…and even “loyalty” and “covenant faithfulness”.  It is the word used to describe God’s persistent loyalty and compassion for us.  His compassion springs from His commitment to us; and conversely, His commitment and loyalty spring from His unmovable compassion for us. They are dimensions of the same thing: His steadfast love!  Most places you see “steadfast love” in the Psalms, for example, this is it.   It is also found in Micah 6:8.  This is the term David used to describe to describe who God is and His character. It’s the way God has relationship with us and how He wants us to have relationship with Him and with each other – ‘steadfast love’ – ‘faithful/loyal compassion’.  It so shaped David’s thinking that he extended ‘chesed’ to others. It was the basis of his relationship with Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9:7) and Hanun (2 Sam 10:2).    Our Lord Jesus carried this understanding forward as the model of relational community.  In Matt 9 Jesus went to Matthew’s house where there were tax collectors and “sinners” (you fill in the blanks!).   When the religious folk complained about Jesus hanging out with them, Jesus responded “I wish you understood this. ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice'”. This comes from Hosea 6:6.  The word that is translated “mercy” in Matthew is you guessed it,  “chesed” in the Hebrew. When Jesus said that I’m sure that the Pharisees understood the full dimension (at least intellectually) of what Jesus said to them. Jesus was reminding them of God’s steadfast love for us just as He had for Matthew and his friends. The only thing that would “heal” them was for the Pharisees to cross the threshold into Matthew’s house and show them “chesed” –  compassion that is absolutely committed and loyal to them – and loyalty that springs from unrelenting compassion.   I am so, so thankful that this is who my Lord and Savior is to me.  Thank you Father for your love; thank you Jesus for crossing the threshold into my dirty life and sacrificing yourself even to death to heal me; thank you sweet Holy Spirit for living with me every breath.  With all my strength I will try to “chesed” you in return.