Blessed are the Merciful

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Let me tell you a few stories
During a night swim with girlfriends, bride-to-be Rachelle Friedman was horsing around and got jokingly pushed into the shallow end of the pool, where her head hit the bottom. She cracked her neck, reported Today, and has not been able to feel anything below it since. Despite the life-changing injury, Friedman went on with her marriage and has said she never harbored resentment toward her friend about the freak accident. “There is no use in being down in the dumps and depressed. It’s not going to get you anywhere,”
Around the time of the Korean War, Kim Joon-gon had seen 2,000 out of 20,000 people on Chunnam Island murdered by the Communists. They dragged he and his family outside their village where Kim’s father and wife were beaten to death and Kim was left for dead. When he revived and sought safety at an acquaintance’s house, he was turned over to the Communists. Only the sudden appearance of an American ship off the island coast saved him this time, for the Communist soldiers hurried away to the battle. Kim hid out in the countryside until the South Korean army captured the island. The Communists who had killed his wife and father were arrested. Because it was wartime, the police chief had authority to execute without a trial. But as the chief prepared to kill the men, Kim pleaded, "Spare them. They were forced to kill." The police chief showed great surprise. "It was your family they killed! Why do you now want to spare their lives?" Kim replied, "Because the Lord, whose I am and whom I serve, would have me show mercy to them." The Communists were spared execution because of Kim’s plea. News of his action spread among other Communist supporters in the area. When Kim later climbed a mountain to preach to Communists hiding out, he was not killed. Many of the Communists became Christians, and when Kim finally left the island there was a flourishing church of 108 members.
After a long shift at the fire department, Matt Swatzell fell asleep while driving and crashed into another vehicle, taking the life of pregnant mother June Fitzgerald and injuring her 19-month-old daughter. According to Today, Fitzgerald’s husband, a full-time pastor, asked for the man’s diminished sentence—and began meeting with Swatzell for coffee and conversation. Many years later, the two men remain close. “You forgive as you’ve been forgiven,”
What is important about these stories. What makes them different than most stories we here these days. One word. Mercy. Mercy, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things to show. Showing mercy is not an easy task nor is it one of the things we want to show. But it is one of the most rewarding things. We’ve been going through the beatitudes in Jesus sermon on the mount and we have made it to number 7 of the beatitudes. Blessed are the merciful. But instead of taking this phrase by phrase like we have been we are going to look at some stories of scripture so that we can really grasp what mercy is and what it looks like.


The first story we are going to look at is one we all know very well. We have given it the title “The Prodigal Son.” This story is found in Luke 15. I am not going to read the whole thing, but we are going to look at this story together. Luke 15:11-13. What is significant about what the son does here. The son doesn’t just walk up and say hey dad can I have some money to go and have fun. To ask for your inheritance was basically saying I wish you were dead. Your inheritance didn’t come until the person giving it to you was dead. So this son walks up to his dad and says I wish you were dead give me what you owe me. Listen if I was this guys father I probably would have socked him right in the nose and say there is your inheritance. But the father does something here that is unusual. Here gives the inheritance to his son. That isn’t normally heard of. But the son goes out and puts it in a bank and saves lots of money and becomes famous and gives all the money back to his dad. Oh sorry wrong translation. He squanders all the money on this life he thought he needed. He thought he was missing out on so much. You know what would have been more productive with the money he had. Burning it. At least someone would have got some warmth from it. This guy tells his dad to go die spends all the money and then ends up feeding pigs. What is significant about Jewish people and pigs. Pigs were unclean animals. You did not touch, eat, or do anything with unclean animals. Which means this guy has sunk extremely low. Even more so the fact that he is eating after the pigs. He finally gives up and goes back to his dad knowing he was going to have to beg for forgiveness. He knew that he would be lucky if he even allowed him to come on as a servant. I mean that is what he deserved. He deserved to be disowned, to be cast out, to be ostracized by his family. He deserved to end up where he was at right? Karma got him right? Well the father sees his son from a long ways off and begins to run to him and embrace him to which the son starts into his rehearsed speech but the father stops him. At this moment the father doesn’t slap him, or tell him to leave, or shake his dust off at him. He gives him a fattened calf, the beautiful robe, they throw a party for him. His father welcomed him despite everything that he had done to him. Most of our responses would be that of the brother Luke 15:28-30. Woah, why is he getting all of that. He doesn’t desrve that at all. Why isn’t he getting what he deserves. Where is the justice in all of this? But the father once again shows something amazing. This other son is questioning his father, getting angry with his father, not treating him with respect. Yet, instead of being cross with the son. Instead of putting him in his place the father pleads for the son to come in and celebrate. The father in this story is the embodiment of mercy. His own family wished he was dead and treated him with so much disrespect. He had every right to hate them and disown them. But he didn’t. He showed mercy. He didn’t give them what they deserved which wasn’t good things. They didn’t deserve their fathers respect or to be honest they didn’t deserve his love, but he gave it anyway. Its hard to do that with family. To show mercy to family can be extremely hard because you know them so well and the hurt that might have been caused just seems to linger longer.
Lets look at another story in scripture. This one is found in John 7 and John 8. This is also a well known story. We often title this story the adulterous woman. John 7:53-8:11. How does this story show mercy? Well in that time period to be caught in adultery was a heinous crime. I mean it was at the top of the list of terrible things to do. So much so that the jewish law stated that those caught in adultery were to be stoned. Both men and women, which wasn’t what happened here but were not going to get into that. They took adultery seriously and the punishment even more so. Jesus knew the law very well. As He should right? His dad came up with all of it. So he knew what the punishment was when the woman was put before him. He knew what the law required. Yet, he sat and the dirt and just drew in the sand. That is going to be one of the first things I ask Jesus when I see him. What he was drawing in the sand but thats a rabbit trail. He gets up and makes a powerful statement. Any of you who havent sinned can throw the first stone. Well no one in the crowd except for you could stand there so they all began to leave. Then the one person who could condemn her, Jesus, didn’t. By all rights according to their law she should have been stoned. She should have been killed for such a heinous crime in that time. Yet, Jesus showed her mercy. These other people were so caught up with their self-rightouesness. Their egos. They were more than willing to point out other people’s sins and punish them. But when confronted with their own sin they could do nothing but walk away. Sometimes in our life our own self righteouness gets in the way of showing mercy. We are so quick to want to punish others for their sin becuase “thats what they deserve” but when we look at our life it’s filled with sin too. Too often we think of ourselves better than we are. OUr egos build and we stand from the top pointing down at everyone. We have to remember that we too have been shown mercy by God because of our sin. Because we deserve nothing but death. Yet, God spared us. Just like he did the adulterous woman.
Lets look at one final story. Another famous story that we have talked about before and you have heard probably a hundred times but shows us what mercy looks like. This story is found in John 21. The story of Jesus and Peter. We all known Peter’s famous mistake. The man he had walked with for 3 years, seen perform many miracles for others, said he would die for him, said he wouldn’t allow anyone to take Jesus, he denied. Denied even knowing him. He didn’t just deny that he followed him he denied that he even KNEW him. That is hard. A friend that you have had for a long time that you have gone through life with all of a sudden denied even knowing you at all when times get tough. If that isn’t a stab in the back I don’t know what it. Peter realizing his mistake is so greieved and I am sure it eats him up inside after his death on the cross. The amount of guilt he felt was probably eating him up inside. Then we know what happends next right? Jesus defeats death and rises on the third day and begins to appear to all of these people and he is giving them tasks of procaliming the gospel. Peter this whole time is still following Jesus, but I almost picture him following at a distance. The mistake he made sitting at the forefront of his mind. But Jesus does something amazing. He takes Peter to the side and shows Peter mercy. John 21:15-19. By all rights Jesus should have told him you’re done. You following me is over. I can’t trust that you will follow me until the end. You already gave up on me one time how do I know you won’t do it again. I mean that is what we would say to a friend that betrayed our trust right. A friend that we have gone through life with and walked with stabs us in the back our first reaction is what? Get even. It’s time for justice right? Jesus shows us here that it’s time for mercy. Peter did not get what he deserved. He deserved to be thrown out, tossed to the side. Yet, Jesus lifted him up and gave him new life.


You know there is a difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve and grace is getting what you don’t deserve. To be honest between the two I think mercy can one of the hardest things to show. So often we want to give people what they deserve because, well, they deserve it. We live in a society that talks all about Karma and things coming back to bite you. That is not how Jesus operated. Think about your own life for a second. Have you been shown mercy? Mercy by God? Mercy by others? What is holding us back from showing other’s mercy. We as a human race deserve the flood to happen all over again. The world is a corrupt messed up place. We all deserve to be just wiped off the face of the planet. Yet, God shows mercy. God shows us mercy everyday. We deserve to be punished for our sins. Yet, God shows mercy. Are we showing mercy? Jesus says in the second half of the beatitiude that those who show mercy will also be shown mercy. Listen I don’t know about you but I need to be shown a lot of mercy by God. That means I need to be showing others that same kind of mercy. I can’t expect my self just to get something and then not show it to others. Mercy can be one of the hardest things because people just don’t deserve it. But you know we don’t either yet we are shown it every single day. By others and by God especially. How is your mercy? Who do you need to show it too? We need to look at these stories and realize the need for mercy everywhere in our own life and in those around us. When we recieved mercy from God it changed our lives. So imagine how you may make an impact or change someone elses life by showing them mercy. Jesus shows us mercy everyday and its time for us to start doing the same.
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