It’s an expression I heard frequently as a boy when we went “down to the country.” “Lord, have mercy!”
I can remember hearing my Granny Key say it. “Lord, have mercy!”
I also remember ten men in the Bible saying it too. “Jesus, Master, Have Mercy on Us”.
Our Word of the week is “merciful .”
There is no greater need and no nobler virtue than the quality of mercy.
Jesus is called a “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Heb 2:11)
James wrote that Jesus is “very compassionate and merciful” (Jas 5:11)
So, Jesus would exhort in the Mountain Message, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
But Jesus not commanded mercy, he demonstrated mercy.
Back to the ten men. They were lepers. Outcasts. Afflicted with the worse disease imaginable. Tim Zindale describes this way:
“Leprosy was incurable, leprosy was disgusting, leprosy was revolting. Leprosy was considered proof that you were the vilest kind of sinner. God was really punishing you for something really bad. If you had leprosy, you actually watched your body rot away. Your fingers, your ears, your nose dropped off. You died a slow and painful death, cut off from society, cut off from family and the only friendships you had were others like you. Nine others in this case that kept reminding you as you looked at them how really bad you were. Ten lepers, ten dying, decaying, stinking wretches met Jesus and cried, “Jesus Master Have mercy on Us.”
And what did Jesus do?
He didn’t touch them. He didn’t wash them. He didn’t pray for them. He said, “Go show yourselves to the Priests.” In other words go get a certificate of cleansing. Healing. Holiness. In Jesus’ eyes they were as good as whole again.
You wonder what they thought. Really? Seriously? Are you kidding me? But they went. And Luke records, and “as they went, they were healed.” Mercy!
The God of mercy has shown up again! In the person of Jesus.
As John Stott wrote, “Mercy is compassion for people in need.” God’s mercy met the needs of people whether in offering salvation, or clemency. Isaiah proclaimed, “For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted” (49:13).
Mercy identifies with the victim, empathizes with their plight and acts to do something about it. You see, mercy is more than just pity. It’s more than a feeling. And it’s not the same as grace. Mercy is compassion for people in need. Richard Lenski makes this distinction; “The noun (mercy) always deals with what we see of pain, misery and distress, that results of sin and (grace) always deals with the sin and guilt itself. The one extends relief, the other pardon; the one cures, heals, helps, and the other cleanses and reinstates.”
Often in scriptures we hear the plaintive cry from hurting people, “Oh, Lord, have mercy on me!” And so we see His mercy in restoring sight to the blind. Casting out demons. Curing incurable diseases. Healing the lame. And forgiving sins. He’s our perfect example of mercy.
Mercy reaches out to those who sin and need our encouragement. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won’’t give up in despair.” 2 Cor. 2:7 (CEV)
We all need mercy. We sin and fall short of the mark. And since God offers us mercy, we should extend mercy to one another. Jesus said, “blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
In the church family, it is important to show and share mercy. Rick Warren expressed it this way, “In real fellowship people experience mercy. Fellowship is a place of grace, where mistakes aren’t rubbed in but rubbed out. Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice. You can’t have fellowship without forgiveness because bitterness and resentment always destroy fellowship.”
The merciful Jesus should motivate us to be merciful. When you are hurt you can either chose to retaliate or seek a resolution. Mercy allows us to forgive. To let go of the past. To show compassion. And seek to restore trust and fellowship.
May our prayer be, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. And mold my heart to be merciful to others.”
“Lord, have mercy!”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman