Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)
Mercy, most certainly, is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. It speaks of a forgiveness unmerited but, none the less granted to an individual. In the Bible we see the mercy of God displayed in the life of Jesus.
Tax collectors were notoriously greedy and merciless individuals. They extorted larger amounts of money than was their due and made a very comfortable living at the expense of their fellow countrymen. One day, God’s mercy was extended to a tax collector called Matthew…..and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, we read about a Samaritan woman who had had five previous husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband. Not a likely candidate for mercy, but the love of God reached out to such as this woman and opened up the way of salvation to her.
In the Old Testament, we read of Joseph, the young man who was cruelly sold into slavery by his brothers, extending mercy towards the very men who plotted his ruin. Mercy triumphed over judgement.
There are many other beautiful examples of mercy in the Bible. In the New Testament, one of these is in Matthew 1:18-19.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a just man, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Judgement is what was called for in this case, yet Joseph did not choose that path. Have you ever wondered why he chose another way? In Isaiah 42:1-3, Joseph would have read of a law that was higher than justice….it was mercy.
‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.’
In his book 'Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes’, Kenneth E.Bailey, has written; “ Joseph looked beyond the penalties of the law in order to reach out with tenderness to a young woman who was no doubt bruised and exhausted. Perhaps he saw Mary as a ‘dimly burning wick’. This definition of justice required a compassionate concern for the weak, the downtrodden and the outcasts in their need.’ Joseph chose mercy over judgement thus saving the life of Mary and the unborn child she bore.
When Christ came to earth, his mission could have been one of judgement and exacting payment from a sinful people. Instead, he reached out with mercy to the ‘bruised reed’ and the ‘smouldering wick’
Thank God for mercy.
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