You know what to expect. Once again you have done something you were not supposed to. Because you have failed before, you know the disappointment and consequences awaiting you. Parent, spouse, teacher, friend or God-- we dread the moment of reckoning.
Unexpectedly, they acknowledge your failure and then offer understanding and forgiveness. You thought you would be wallowing and drowning in shame, but today relief floods your soul. You are loved and the desire to change is growing inside you. The world is new in the light of mercy.
Imagine the trauma Noah and his family experienced. They witnessed firsthand the powerful judgment of God upon the earth. Everywhere was buried in water. Everyone they had known was drowned. The nature of the atmosphere had changed and only God’s mercy could explain their survival.
When the door of the ark opened, mercy had brought them to a new place. It was unrecognizable from their history. The very first rainbow[i] appeared with a message from God—no more floods that destroy everything. Mercy!
John would describe a vision of God sitting on a throne encircled by a rainbow[ii]. The Judge on His throne is bathed in the light of mercy. Noah’s family experienced the presence of God’s throne as they looked up into a hopeful sky. We see the rainbow when forgiveness is undeserved and freely offered.
The King of Kings preached on a hillside to people who needed a rainbow. The hard rain of Roman oppression and harsh religion brought more doom than hope. Mercy was no-one’s corporate value. But here was the One who would judge the nations and open Heaven’s door. His throne appeared on uneven ground of this rocky hillside.
No-one showed more mercy to the undeserving than Jesus did. Sinners, Samaritans and sad-hearted failures came to life in the presence of the Mercy Giver.
The oppressors would have none of it. Jesus was not the first one to be humiliated, judged and crucified. He would not be their last.
But, here is a truth that works wherever love exists. Show mercy to others and you will experience mercy back at ‘cha. Jesus showed mercy to a heartless world that crucified Him. Where is the reciprocation?
Jesus received God’s mercy when none was available from the oppressors. The Spirit of God resurrected Jesus from the dead, a fitting reward for the One who embodied God’s mercy. Their lack of mercy did not impede the coming of God’s Kingdom.
In hearing the words of Jesus we are reminded of our condition. The Beatitudes are best understood by people who are messy, broken and bewildered.
Dallas Willard says these sayings are ‘explanations and illustrations, drawn from immediate setting, of the present availability of the kingdom through personal relationship to Jesus. They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope.’ [iii]
When you are merciful to others who have not deserved it, you will be rewarded with mercy. It will likely come from somewhere unexpected. If you expected it, would it really be mercy?
How is the quality of mercy in your household? Are there people that you need to be merciful to?