As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
There is order and balance to the beatitudes, as the first four deal with the disciples’ relationship with God (vertical), and the next four deal with the disciples’ relationship with others (horizontal), especially those who have wronged them. The beatitudes proceed in order, beginning with being poor in spirit, then mourning our spiritual poverty, standing meekly before God and others, leading to a hunger and thirst for righteousness and right relationships. As we experience mercy in our relationship with God, that mercy then overflows through us to others. Mercy comes from mercy.
For any understanding of God it is important to know that mercy is the attribute most often ascribed to Him. The Scriptures reveal God as “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4), and “the Father of all mercies” (II Corinthians 1:3). The prophet Micah says that God actually “delights in showing mercy” (Micah 7:18). It pleases God to be merciful. The nineteenth century English preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, proclaimed “There is nothing little in God; His mercy is like Himself – it is infinite”.
Many Old Testament prophecies foretell Messiah as bringing mercy to the people (Isaiah 49:10, 13; 54:8, 10; 60:10; Zechariah 10:6). Jesus Messiah is frequently shown responding tenderly to the plea, “Have mercy on me!” (Matthew 9:17; 15:22; 17:15; 20:30, 31). Mercy marks the life and ministry of Jesus.
Having been lavished with God’s extravagant mercy we are to show mercy to others, even enemies. Jesus’ command to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” is His paraphrase of the famous “Be holy for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 20:26). You are never more God-like than when you are showing mercy to the undeserving.
A mother pleaded for mercy with Napoleon Bonaparte on behalf of her son who was to be executed for his crimes. Napoleon listened to her plea for mercy, then pointed out that it was her son’s second offense; justice demanded execution. But the mother replied: “I am not asking for justice, I am asking for mercy.” Napoleon objected saying, “But your son doesn’t deserve mercy”. “Yes, I know he doesn’t deserve mercy,” the mother replied. “But it would not be mercy if he deserved it; mercy is all I ask”. Napoleon granted her plea for mercy and her son’s pardon.
How blessed are those who realize God’s mercy, and in God’s mercy find they too can be merciful.
PONDER AND PRAY
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”—Psalm 103:8
- God’s mercy is seen in His dealing with us not as we deserve, but as we so desperately need. Take some moments to reflect on God’s mercies to you. You might find it meaningful to write down in a journal or notebook some of God’s mercies. Why not share with someone today how God has specifically shown you mercy.
- As you reflect upon God’s mercy to you, is there someone needing mercy from you? Ask God to guide and help you in showing mercy.
- What do You want To Say To God?