WHAT WE TALK ABOUT
Biblical. Practical. Relevant.
The Bible broken down into plain language with direct application to meet you where you are.
The Bible broken down into plain language with direct application to meet you where you are.
This is our fifth week walking through the Beatitudes - the first section of Jesus’ most famous public sermon, The Sermon on the Mount. Let's review what we’ve looked at so far.
Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in spirit are those who humbly recognize their sinfulness in light of a holy God and are willing to confess and repent of their sin, placing their faith in Jesus, their rescuer. Because of this they have the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Those who mourn, mourn over sin like God does. They realize their sin violates God’s holiness bringing chaotic consequences into the world. Jesus will comfort those who mourn sin that way.
Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” The meek display the love, kindness, and patience of Jesus. They don’t try to combat sin with physical violence. Jesus will one day fight for the meek and will give them the re-created earth as their inheritance.
Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” These are people who realize that Jesus is righteousness and that they can only become righteous through faith in him. Jesus himself will satisfy these people with who he is, leaving them overflowing with his presence.
All that leads us to Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Seems simple and pretty straightforward, but you know by now that there’s more depth to the Beatitudes than face value.
First, have you noticed a trend in the previous verses? Each display human inadequacy, pointing to Christ-like attributes. The wonderful thing about our God is that he never leaves us alone or empty but provides for us even though our rebellion demands punishment. Do you know what that’s called? MERCY.
MERCY is showing compassion on and granting forgiveness to those whom one has both the right and the authority to punish.
So think within the context of the Beatitudes. Haven’t the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, and those hungry and thirsty for righteousness been shown MERCY? Of course they have. So I think it sort of falls within the scope of human reason that Jesus would wrap up the first half of the Beatitudes by hi-lighting MERCY.
It’s important to note what kind of MERCY Jesus is specifically talking about here in Matthew 5:7. It’s the MERCY that makes salvation possible for humanity. On the cross of Calvary Jesus paid the price for our sin, enduring God’s wrath for us. Three days later he rose from the grave defeating sin, death, and hell forever, paving the way for us to become righteous, reconciling us to a holy God. Now that’s MERCY!
Have you grasped this MERCY that’s been offered to you? I mean really gotten a hold of it? If you have, you realize that the life you experience now – and the one you’ll experience after death – was all made possible by MERCY. For believers, God’s MERCY is embodied in Jesus. But did you know that God offers MERCY to unbelievers as well? Every breath they breathe is a gift from the Creator of the universe – more time to repent and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. Only a MERCIFUL God would allow treasonous, rebellious people multiple opportunities to receive the MERCY that’s offered to them.
God’s MERCY is all around us! Do we recognize it? The poor in spirit have. Those who mourn understand it. The meek bask in it. The hungry and thirsty continuously feast on it. When God’s MERCY becomes that real to you it will inevitably result in: a) unbridled worship and b) you extending MERCY to others.
Guess what? The Old Testament speaks into this. Proverbs 11:17, “The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.” Translated: The forgiving person does good to his/her own soul, but the unforgiving person subjects his/her body to ruin. This is where I want to put a little different twist on the Beatitudes this week.
Each of the Beatitudes, while directly addressing believers, indirectly addresses unbelievers. Those who are not poor in spirit do not have the kingdom of heaven. Those who do not mourn sin will not be comforted. Those who are not meek will not inherit the earth. Those who do not hunger and thirst after righteousness will not be satisfied. Get it?
So if we apply this Proverb to Matthew 5:7 we realize that Jesus is not only pronouncing blessing on the merciful, but total condemnation on the unmerciful. Let’s jump back to the New Testament to illustrate this point. Matthew 18:23-35.
We’re going to break this story down into two parts, so let’s look at verses 23-27 first. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. (24) When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. (25) And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. (26) So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ (27) And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.”
Did you catch what just happened? The servant was in debt. He owed his master 10,000 talents. 1 talent was equivalent to 15 years earnings. So how long would it take him to pay off the debt? 150,000 years! That debt would take 1,875 lifetimes to pay off, assuming a lifetime is 80 years. Impossible. But the master demands payment! Understanding the magnitude of his debt the servant does the only thing he knows to do…beg. He even asks the master to be patient with him as he pays off the debt. Both he and the master know the debt is impossible to repay! So you expect the master to drop the hammer, right? But he doesn’t. Instead he extends MERCY to his servant and takes the loss himself, completely forgiving the servant. Wow! Let’s keep reading, though.
“(28) But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ (29) So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ (30) He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. (31) When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. (32) Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. (33) And should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ (34) And in his anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. (35) So my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Woah. The servant who had just been shown MERCY beyond compare, by being forgiven a debt he could never repay, fails to forgive a fellow servant a debt that would have only taken 100 days to pay off. And he suffers the wrath of his master for it. His debt is placed back on his head and he’s thrown in prison until he pays it off. I'm pretty sure he died in prison.
Do you get it yet? God is the master. We are the servant with the ridiculous debt. Our debt isn’t money, it’s sin. God demands payment, but we don’t have the means to pay for our sin apart from spending eternity enduring the wrath of God. So we cry out to him and beg him to withhold his judgment from us. He, then, is filled with compassion and forgives our sin debt, taking on the loss himself by sending his Son Jesus to pay for our sin. MERCY!
The servant doesn’t have any right to condemn anyone, does he? The MERCY he’s just received should overjoy him to the point where he’s willing to forgive anything because he knows no one could owe him more than he once owed. All that should happen, but it doesn’t. The servant takes MERCY for granted. And the consequences leave him alone to face the wrath of his master.
Do you get what Jesus was saying when he taught, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy?” He’s saying, “Your sin debt was so overwhelming that you could never pay it off yourselves, but something had to be done about it. So God sent me, your rescuer, to pay for it on your behalf. I endured his wrath against your sin debt so that you wouldn’t have to. I wiped your slate clean. Because of his MERCY, my sacrifice made you debt free, reconciling you to him, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of being in fellowship with him both now and in the future. Because of the compassion God had on you and forgiveness he granted you, you should be overflowing with joy! Eager to show the same compassion and forgiveness to others, no matter what they owe you.”
Matthew 6:14, 15 summarizes it well. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (15) but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Here's Matthew 5:7 in a nutshell:
“Blessed are those who realize the MERCY God has extended to them through his Son, Jesus. They’re blessed because they know Jesus’ sacrifice removed their sin debt – a debt that couldn’t be repaid in a million lifetimes. Because they’ve received this kind of MERCY, they readily extend MERCY to others, knowing that they’ll never have to forgive a debt any where near as great as what they’ve been forgiven. That’s why Jesus calls the merciful, ‘blessed.’”
Have an awesome week. See you Wednesday.