“ I desire mercy…”
My loved one was frail from years of sickness, she was shaking and weepy as she hugged me. It seemed to me that we should never let each other go from that embrace. Then, she whispered in my ear “This will be the last time I see you.” My heart sank. She was feeling hopeless. She was giving up. I begged her not to say such things. I even asked her if I could pray over her, and I begged God for healing.
In those moments, I felt something I can only describe as the feeling of MERCY. I felt the presence of the Lord. It was as though it was HIM, in me, that she was needing, hugging, longing for. I wanted Jesus to love her through me. I knew I was not enough, I had no power to heal, to save, to comfort, to strengthen. It had to be HIM.
Mercy. One definition is having compassion or tenderness for another. I have often heard in Christian teachings that it is defined as God not giving us what we deserve. Gotquestions.org says “In the Bible, mercy is extended to an offender in the form of forgiveness or to the suffering in the form of healing or other comfort. In any case, mercy can be characterized as compassionate treatment of those in distress. Whether the distress is caused by the guilt or penalty of sin or by a debilitating physical condition, mercy is there to help.”
Then, after this moment that I can only describe as an intense feeling of mercy, I encountered the opposite. Condemnation.
My mind and heart were all caught up with concern and grief over my loved one, and the feeling like that moment had been important somehow. So, I tried to share with some people who had been life-long church goers. I looked for some compassion, some comforting, some understanding and some mercy.
I was met with condemnation. I was interrupted repeatedly with declarations of examples of the “sins” that make a person sick. The message was clear to me. Stop sharing, or caring about someone who has made themselves sick. They are not worth the energy and concern. This. Made. Me. Mad. This moment has grieved me worse than the first. What if Jesus thought this way?
Providentially, at Bible study this week, this was the section we studied. I was confronted with a Biblical account that seemed perfectly fit for what I had just lived through. (After all these years, I still get flaked out when God speaks through His Word, the exact thing and the exact right time.)
Matthew 9:10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Here is Jesus the merciful, dealing with the condemning religious leaders. Jesus loves sinners. Jesus died for sinners. The religious leaders thought they could save themselves by doing good works, and they expected others to follow their rules, to be moral. Here the Son of God is healing people, forgiving sin, loving and showing mercy, right before their eyes and they judged HIM! Why the nerve!
He is the only HOLY one in the room, and He says… “I desire mercy…”
I am not worthy of His mercy. I can do NOTHING to deserve it. Praise the Lord that He is NOT like the Pharisees, the legalists, the condemners. Right after the famous John 3:16 verse, He says 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
That last part is key. “…through Him might be saved.” The Bible tells us that Jesus will judge and condemn the lost to an eternity in hell. He is God. He made the rules. Sin is only paid for by the shedding of perfect blood. Sinners march right past that cross and never really see what happened there for them. They think if there is a heaven, maybe their sins aren’t too bad and they will get there by doing some good works. Their great error is in denying that the price has been paid and all they had to do is believe that Jesus paid it all. How sad is it that mercy is rejected?
What about my loved one? Not having assurance that a loved one has gained heaven by faith in Jesus, in believing that He paid it all for them personally, is one of the most painful things I have known. I pray, I ask Him to lead me in what to say, how to communicate with my entire being that He is real, and that He shows mercy. But, it is HIS work.
I am nothing apart from Him. I can do nothing. I am a sinner falling completely upon His mercy. Oh! If He would work through me, if He would show love and mercy through my wretchedness! I am open to it! I want to be His ambassador. I don’t have to look at sinners and deem them not worth my time, my concern, because the Lord Jesus has saved ME, and I know He can save THEM.
Believers, are we quick to see others sins, their self-destructive sins, and shake our heads and say “They did it to themselves”? Can we see this is our commonality? Can we teach others that yes… we are all sinners, but there is a merciful Savior? Can we love THAT MUCH?
This is a simple life lesson I am living through, I am sharing it because it helps me to learn it well, and I hope that my words may be used of Him to open hearts by His Spirit.
Matt. 5:7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.