Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

The Word of God is a comfort for Christians who believe in Christ alone. Yet, Christians must admit that some passages can be frightening because of their implications. One example is the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. In Matthew 18:35, Jesus says we will be condemned if we do not forgive those who sin against us and ask for mercy. Passages like this are scary because they reveal how often we fail to show mercy to others. Instead, we expect mercy from other people, even as, we hold grudges against those who wrong us. By doing this, we forget that a willingness to forgive others their trespasses is a sign of a forgiven heart that rests in Jesus alone for salvation (Matthew 6:14-15). The Lord shows mercy to people, even when they do not easily forgive or don’t forgive others at all. When we turn to Jesus in faith and repentance, the Lord Jesus showers repentant sinners with mercy. As we are merciful with others, He tells us in Matthew 5:7, we receive mercy from God.

As we consider the topic of mercy, we need to turn to John 7:53-8:11. In this text, the scribes and Pharisees test the Lord Jesus by using the woman caught in adultery. You may recall this is a no-win situation for the Lord Jesus because if he agrees that the woman deserves death, the Pharisees can complain to the Roman authorities who prohibit first-century Judea from imposing the death penalty. This would result in them accusing Jesus of sedition. Yet, if Jesus denies that death by stoning is the maximum penalty for adultery under the Mosaic Law (Lev. 20:10), the Pharisees can charge him with heresy. Jesus’ response in John 7:53-8:11 is instructive in that He tells them yes they can execute her but then appoints the executioners those who are without sin (John 8:7-8). Since none of the men meet the standard, they turn away one by one (John 8:9). Even so, there is one man without sin- the God-Man the Lord Jesus. Jesus shows true mercy. Though it would be right for Jesus to execute this woman, Jesus does not do so, but instead shows her mercy (John 8:10-11).

Mercy does take sin lightly. Mercy is forgiveness and patience extended to someone despite what they have done to us. Many people today confuse mercy with winking at justice and righteousness, but we should never ignore justice, but be quick to show mercy to those who have sinned against us and be quick to forgive those who have wronged us.