Text: Matthew 23:23
What is a good definition of Mercy?
Loving kindness toward the undeserving.
Restraint in judgment toward those who deserve wrath.
Pity and compassion toward those who are hurting.
Division of the lesson
1. The mercy of God
2. The mercy required of man
The Mercy of God
The mercy seat (or the mercy throne, described in Exodus 25:17-22). The mercy seat was the lid for the ark of the covenant, a place where God’s presence abode among His people in the Old Testament. God communed with Moses from above the mercy seat. The priest sprinkled blood of a sacrificial offering upon the mercy seat, symbolic of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
Likewise, in the New Testament, God called His throne a throne of mercy. Heb. 4:16:
God’s self revelation – Exodus 34:4-7 gives us God’s word about himself ……God delights in mercy!
God’s mercy endures forever – Psalms 136:1-26 This phrase is repeated over and over.
God’s mercy is abundant – Psalms 86:5 How wonderful that mercy is overflowing to us!
God has pity on the hurting – James5:11 This scripture mentions Job, and remarks that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.
The Mercy Required of Man
God requires us to show mercy. Micah 6:8 questions, “What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy……? Other Scriptures to look at: Matt. 9:10-13 and Matt. 12:1-8. In the latter instance, Jesus rebukes Pharisees for their harsh, condemning attitude at the hungry disciples who plucked corn to satisfy their hunger on the Sabbath. They were unmerciful in their condemnation. In both passages in Matthew, Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6: For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;… He rebukes the Pharisees because they do not comprehend this O.T. Scripture, the idea being that the trappings of religion are not as important to God as the workings of mercy and loving-kindness in our hearts toward others!
Merciful people are joyful people. Matt. 5:7: Blessed (Happy) are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Merciful people receive mercy. (Matt. 5:1; 7:1-2) Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged…..; Ps. 18:25: With the merciful, thou wilt shew thyself merciful;…..
God requires mercy to be shown to the poor. Prov. 14:21: …he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
After the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles, in which the black Rodney King was brutally beaten by Los Angeles policemen, rioting erupted. An unsuspecting trucker, a white man, Reginald Denny, drove into the rioting area. Inflamed rioters stopped him, dragged him out of his truck and brutally beat him. After surgeries and rehabilitation he lived. Later he met his attackers face to face. He forgave them. A reporter said that Mr. Denny is suffering brain damage! Actually, he was doing what was right. Fifteen years after the 1992 incident, Time magazine reported that a friend of Denny’s commented, “He’s doing better.” He is even driving. He is going on with his life and doesn’t speak much about the incident.
Someone asked our teacher, “Will you still remember what people have done to you?” Our teacher replied, “Yes, but you know that you have forgiven when you can think about the incident and no wrong feelings arise in your heart.”
In another instance, a missionary family was brutally beaten to death. The mother survived, and flew home. At the airport she was met by a bevy of reporters. They questioned, “How do you feel about these brutal men?” She answered, “I forgive them.” The reporters were outraged.
Her convicting last reply: “ I forgive them for I, too, need forgiveness.”
Have you ever heard this? “ I’ve never done anything that bad!” Please consider that although you said you had never done anything that bad, you would be shocked at the sins that were already on your record when Jesus saved you! Jesus said that both adultery and murder could be committed in the heart. For further consideration, notice that Scripture equates rebellion with witchcraft! What a surprise the sins of the heart might be to us!