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July 10, 2008

What is mercy? Take a moment, and in your heart, define mercy.

Out of all of the definitions that were just created, I can tell you one word that wasn’t used – justice. Mercy is not  justice.

In Ephesians 2.1-3 Paul describes us as having been dead because of our disobedience and our sins, following our leader Satan, and living according to the passions of our flesh… Justice would have verse 4 read, “And God the holy judge stood with a righteous glare, condemning us to death, a punishment well deserved.” In justice…

In John 8, a woman is thrown at the feet of Jesus by her accusers. She has been caught in the very act of adultery. The men, righteous themselves, of course, ask Jesus a question –  “Rabbi, The Law says, she must be stoned to death. What do you say we should do?”

In Justice, Jesus stands to his feet, picking up a large stone and says, “The Law of Moses must be upheld. She is deserving of death, therefore, she must be stoned!” In justice…

But praise God for His mercy. In mercy, Jesus stoops to the ground, and with the Creator’s finger writes in the dirt. We aren’t sure what He writes, perhaps the names of the women the accusers were guilty of committing adultery with, but, nonetheless, He now has their attention.

A merciful Jesus, seeing the woman condemned at His feet, challenges the one without sin, the one who is innocent, the one who has a clear conscience, to throw the first rock. And the crowd of accusers slowly walk away, their rocks heaped in a pile behind them as they go.

In mercy, Jesus looks into the eyes of the guilty woman, the one who had committed adultery, the one who did deserve death as prescribed by the Law of Moses, and sends her on her way to “Go, and sin no more.” In mercy…

In Mercy… Ephesians 2.4 doesn’t say anything about a holy judge condemning men to death. Instead, we’re reminded of the powerful mercy of our God. God, the One rich in mercy and loving us with so great a love, has made us alive together with Him, through His death, though we deserved the death penalty.

Mercy. If you take a moment and think of the mercy God has showed you, how can it not affect you? How can you not praise? How can you not sing? How can you not talk about it every day?  We experienced the same mercy the woman from John 8 did – condemned to die, yet recipients of priceless mercy. Our response should be easy…Psalm 13:5,6 But I have trusted in your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

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