Preached on February 9, 2014 at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA.
Today, we find ourselves in verse 7, of Matthew Chapter 5. Let us jump right into our text today by reading through the entire Beatitudes before we unpack verse 7.
To understand the words in the Bible, we must use the Bible to self-interpret. Why is this? Because when I use the word mercy, I may mean one thing, and when you use the word mercy, you may mean something else. However, to be honest, we don’t care what my definition of mercy is, or yours. What we care about is God’s definition of mercy. For it is Jesus who uses these words and we want to know what Jesus means, not what Merriam Webster’s dictionary means.
The Greek word for the verb mercy is eleeō. The Greek word for the noun mercy is eleos. It is actually a common word used in the book of Matthew. In fact, it was commonly used by people who are crying out to Jesus in the streets. Here are the times it is used by the crowds.
The interesting thing about Jesus and mercy is that not only is he merciful in providing care for people during his earthly ministry, but that He is mercy incarnate. Listen to what it says in Hebrews 2:17-18.
If you recall when we talked about mourning in verse 4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”, we examined how sin grieves God. Sin is a big deal to God. He is not casual about our rebellion. However, it not only grieves him, but the consequences of sin (death, despair, anguish, affliction, etc.) moves his heart into action. God observes suffering, His heart is moved, and He responds. The way he responds is through His Son Jesus Christ.
With all that in mind, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:7 that blessed are the merciful. Remember, as we have said in the past, “Blessed” is commonly translated to happy, but a more complete definition would be to understand blessed as the approval of God that brings about happiness. And this makes sense when we look at other passages in Matthew where Jesus speaks about mercy.
How high up is mercy on your list? Is mercy of primary concern in your life or a passing thought? Are you rich in mercy, as God is rich in mercy? How would you define your religion, sacrificial or merciful? Are you more likely to cut a check or visit orphans and widows in their need? Once again, I find that God’s Word cuts deeply into my soul, and leaves me broken before God.
This leaves us in a very difficult predicament, for Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” The logical inverse of that statement is “Cursed are the unmerciful, for they shall be dammed.” This beatitude should cause us to tremble! Turn with me to Matthew 18:21-35.
Once again, scary stuff. We don’t want our story to end like the wicked servant, do we? So how are we to be merciful? Is mercy something that we can manufacture? Can we just go out and make ourselves merciful and therefore earn God’s mercy? Is mercy God something that can be purchased by Phil Parsons? Absolutely not!
If you hear anything today, hear this: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” does not mean that your mercy earns God’s mercy. If your mercy earns God’s mercy that what is the point of Jesus. If we work our way into heaven, we wouldn’t need Jesus’ work on the cross, it strips the good news o the Gospel or all of its power. Reading verse seven as a command by Jesus to take matters into your own hands is the leaven of the Pharisees. So if mercy doesn’t earn mercy, what does Jesus mean?
Let me ask? What was the problem with the wicked servant? Look at verse 35, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." The problem with the wicked servant is that the forgiveness that was offered to him did not reach His heart. Did he hear the offer? Yes. Did he understand the offer? Yes. Did he intellectually accept the offer? Yes. But it did not travel the necessary 8 inches to his heart. The love of His King did not shine in his heart.
Fellow Christian, I hope that this is not you. I hope that as you sit here, you do not presume upon the patience and kindness of your King. I hope that it has effected you more deeply than your mind. I hope that the Gospel message of forgiveness through our merciful high priest Jesus has transformed your heart.
The mercy that overflows from our heart after being filled with the mercy of our high priest is evidence of our future is security in Christ. It is not our mercy that earns our mercy. It is our mercy that proves we have been forgiven.