Do you have a strong sense of justice? I do. When I watch a movie, I want to see the bad guy get what’s coming to him.
Yet the truth is, when we stand before God, you and I are not going to want to receive what we deserve. We’ll want mercy.
And I know how to get it !!!!
Hey there, welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — thanks for joining me.
In a rush to get to an appointment, Jen Wilkin zipped through a yellow light and made a left turn. The traffic citation that arrived in the mail, accompanied by a photo of her car being caught in the act, proved the light was red. It would take $200 to clear her good name. Jen put off paying the fine until just before the deadline because of limited funds. Since Jen was leaving town for a speaking engagement, her husband Jeff offered to go online and take care of everything.
That’s when Jeff, an excellent driver with a spotless record, discovered what his wife already knew. Because the car she was driving was registered to him, her ticket had been put on his driving record—his excellent driving record. His response? “It’s taken care of.” Jeff paid her ticket without grumbling, and her guilt was assigned to his record. In the eyes of the law, the demands of justice had been met, albeit by another. Jen did not receive what she deserved, but Jeff did in her place. That’s MERCY.
Today’s verse says BE MERCIFUL JUST AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL.
What Jeff did for his wife is what Jesus does for us. Our guilt is assigned to His record – and He’s paid our penalty. According to His great mercy, God has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He’s alive, our hope in Him is a living hope – and it leads us to life.
The big difference between grace and mercy is this:
MERCY is not getting what we DO deserve
GRACE is getting what we DON’T deserve.
We love it when God does that with us. But enjoying God’s mercy to us is NOT what today’s verse calls us to do. Since He has poured out His great love and mercy on us, He calls US to be merciful. He actually says that we should do it “just as” He does. Well, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. The bible tells us they are renewed every morning.
Jesus and His disciples have a pretty challenging conversation on forgiveness at one point. Someone has evidently done something wrong to Peter, and it wasn’t the first time they did it. The rabbis at that time taught that you needed to forgive a person three times for the same offense, and then you were justified in seeking punishment. Peter came up to Jesus and asked Him “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” He probably figured if he doubled the number the rabbis insisted upon plus adding an extra time for good measure that he’d be on pretty safe ground. Jesus’ response must have floored him. Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!”
Now when a teacher used a number like that, they were not suggesting that someone actually start counting off six dozen offenses and then use their right hand to keep track of the final five so on the sixth one it would already be in a fist and they could punch them in the nose. The point is that it is a HUGE number, it’s not able to be properly tracked. Jesus is describing an incredible expression of mercy, one beyond measure.
BE MERCIFUL JUST AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL
We received mercy, we found grace to help in our time of need. God expects that we give what we have received. He says that the merciful are greatly blessed by Him, and they shall continue to receive mercy. That’s a good thing, because we need it! We continue to break His law (and His heart) and sin against Him. Sometimes by error, but most often by our own deliberate choices. We choose sin over and over and over and over again; then we come to God and ask for forgiveness, restoration and … MERCY. And He gives it.
The story is told of a mother begging Napoleon to pardon her son. The emperor replied that the soldier had committed a certain offense multiple times and justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained; “I’m pleading for mercy!” Napoleon replied, “Your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied. “Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask.” “Well, then,” the emperor said, “mercy he shall have.” And he spared the life of the woman’s son.
The interesting thing people often overlook in this verse is this — it is God (who has offered YOU mercy) asking you to be merciful to others.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.