Blessed are the merciful
for they will receive Mercy [Matthew 5:7]
So far in this series we have seen that Jesus has been showing his followers what they need to unburden themselves from in order to fully engage with his mission. In this parody of Psalm 1 Jesus has repeated the opening stanza four times, each time turning the message around and stating that, rather than following the letter of the law and expecting a great reward we must instead release our hold on possessions, stop chasing after things that bring us temporary pleasure and loosen our grip on the reigns of power. We must instead seek after righteousness we are told in verse 6, but lest we get confused and turn back to the law for our definition of what is righteous Jesus jumps right in to a new definition. In the old covenant everything hinged on the law, but in Jesus’ Kingdom the new law is the law of mercy.
Mercy clearly replaces law in Jesus new covenant.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. [Luke 6:36-37]
Why should we be merciful? Because God himself is merciful! The law clearly points to judgment and condemnation. If God were not merciful and kind to His people there would be no hope for anyone.
It is clear to me throughout Jesus teaching that He is bringing a message of healing and hope predicated on a foundation of mercy. He sees that we are lost and in need of direction and that direction does not come from being constantly reminded of our failures. It comes from being mercifully shown a better way.
Jesus shared meals with tax collectors and sinners because it was the sick that needed a doctor, not the healthy. [Matthew 9:9-12]
Jesus taught us radical enemy love because it is through showing mercy to those who would persecute us that we see their humanity and allow them to see ours. [Matthew 5:38-42]
Jesus taught us to pray for God to forgive us, in conjunction with our forgiveness of others so that we could recognize our own need for mercy, thus making it easier for us to extend mercy to others. [Matthew 6:12]
In turning away from all the things that burden us and prevent us from following Christ, as we learned in the first 4 stanzas of Jesus song parody, we are now ready to make a heart shift and reset the paradigm. As we see here, that new paradigm is no longer based on a cold and unmoving set of rules. The new paradigm is built on mercy, first in recognizing that we need to receive it and then in being able to offer it to others.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. [Luke 6:37]
Blessed are those who recognize their need for mercy and therefore show it to others, for in so doing, everyone will receive the mercy they need.
So what’s your attitude toward mercy?