Our subjects cover: animals, religion (Christian, Jewish and others); diet and lifestyle (vegan and vegetarian); and other miscellaneous subjects.
Dear Steve and Others:
I agree that this statement of Jesus refers to the guiltless as being the animals that were sacrificed, but there is more to this passage.
Most of the prophets of old were killed by the religious hierarchy. These prophets were also the guiltless, for they brought the message of God to both the priests and laity. Jesus is likening Himself to them in that He is bringing an even greater message, that their Messiah and the kingdom of heaven are in their presence.
Jesus is also likening himself to the priests, but more importantly to Himself as the Great High Priest, for as He says in verse 8, He is Lord of the Sabbath. His work is in the service of His Father, and they are accusing Him and His disciples of being guilty for doing His (their) priestly duties on the Sabbath.
Jesus also seems to be "condemning" His accusers as being as those who condemned the prophets of old. They were not being obedient to the intent of the Law nor to the messages of the prophets.
The sacrifices were done mostly as a ritual, as an excuse for eating the flesh, as Deb brought out in her other referenced Hosea passage (8:13). They also had not turned away from their sins and did not obey the intent of the Law, because it was easier to kill an innocent animal and pretend it covered their sins. Remember that Isaiah said that such people were murderers (1:21), so they further fulfilled his message by sawing him in two.
Do you ever get the feeling that when we bring the message of God's original intent and kingdom living, that we should all be vegan, that some of the "must have my meat" Christians would like to do the same to us?
In the Love of the Lord,