Mercy Like Jesus: What does it look like?
Mercy Like Jesus: An uncommon Bible verse to study mercy
What does having mercy like Jesus look like? The verse that I’m using to discuss mercy today may surprise you. Let’s first look at the Bible verse that I’m referring too.
Matthew 8:31-32 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.
I went through just a few of our commentaries like J. Vernon McGee, The Dake Anointed Reference Bible, The Transforming Word, and Matthew Henry’s Commentary of The Whole Bible looking to see if they addressed these passages from a mercy stand point. Matthew Henry was the only one that really even hinted to it as an act of mercy. I know this is a rather odd look at the topic of mercy, but how can this teach us to have mercy like Jesus?
Mercy on the most unlikely
What does it mean to have mercy like Jesus? It’s easy for us to spot some of the many acts of mercy Jesus had on humans, like healing the lepers, healing the blind, healing the lame, raising the dead and forgiving the woman caught in the act of adultery which was punishable by death, at that time, and yet Jesus did not allow them to stone her. After we learn about the miracle of Him calming the storm, He did something that took me by surprise, He showed mercy to demons. Wait, what?! Talk about being kind to your enemies. The demons requested that Jesus cast them into a large herd of swine, because it was not ‘their time.’ His reply was simply, “GO!” and with that, they went into the swine and you probably know what happened next. What can we learn from this?
Mercy on our enemies
A lot can be gained out of Jesus’ act of both kindness and mercy. Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive those that repeatedly hurt us (Matthew 18:21-35) and He also taught that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), these are acts of mercy. One of the things I love about Jesus is that He not only told them to love their enemies, showing them mercy, but then He demonstrated it to them. Who is more of an enemy of Christ than the demons, except for the devil himself? When Jesus showed His enemies mercy, He showed us that we do not need to fear our enemies. Instead, we can walk in love and kindness towards them, trusting God has a plan to deal with them, in His own way and in His own perfect time. Hell’s gates would certainly get rocked on it’s hinges if we would learn to have mercy like Jesus.
Is there mercy like Jesus among us?
Do we see mercy like Jesus within the body of Christ today? I’m reminded of the level of arguing, hatred, violence and persecution that occurs in our world, not among the unsaved, though that is certainly bad, but I’m talking about among the body of Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I see in a day the bashing of believers over doctrine and interpretation of passages. Is this what Christ seeks for His followers? Is this loving like Christ? Is this having mercy like Jesus? Can a body, any body, make war within itself and be healthy? Can a kingdom, city or house divided among itself stand? Jesus says, no. (Matthew 12:22-28) Any kingdom, city, house or body will lose its strength and effectiveness if it tears itself down from within. That just makes sense, right?
Are we displaying mercy like Jesus? It breaks my heart when I see believers speaking out against teachers, pastors and fellow believers. I’m not saying that we need to let false teachers run around doing damage and yet, we can also trust God will expose them for their lies. We can all be sure that our sins and messes will find us out. (Luke 12:2) So, we can trust that God will bring any wrong teaching and bad things into the light, for He is the light and surely will faithfully shine on the dark places to reveal the truth.
I pray that we just take a moment and think twice before we attack a fellow believer and proceed with caution as we attempt to tear down someone that may disagree with us, assuming we are 100% correct in our interpretation. Do I agree with every word I hear from all fellow believers? No, certainly not, but neither will anyone agree with me 100%, as I don’t believe they should. I’m human and prone to mistakes. We are each to seek out the TRUTH, Jesus, in God’s Word and pray that the God gives us a spirit of discernment. Learning to have mercy like Jesus isn’t always easy, but knowing we are imperfect should make our part all that much easier to love, be gracious, show mercy and trust God has a plan.
Extending mercy to the “underserving”
Mercy is something we often seek from God. There are times we will also need to seek it from our fellow man. Though we seek this from God and others, we sometimes forget to extend to others, believing it is reserved for those we feel “deserve” it. To help me, I remind myself that I do not deserve the mercy God bestows on me each day, and more times than I care to count, but He grants it in His love. I also don’t deserve the mercy I receive from family and friends and sometimes those I don’t even know, but by God moving through the heart of others, I receive it far more than I deserve.
Shouldn’t I follow His example and extend it to others without regard of whether or not I “feel” they “deserve” it? I say with all my heart, “YES!” Love as He loves us, so others know we are His (John 13:34) and by what measure we forgive, we are forgiven (Matthew 7:2). I believe by what measure we show mercy, we will be shown mercy. I sometimes look at this in reverse though. Meaning, I don’t always show mercy because I am looking for future mercy, though I trust I will need it in the future, but I tend to try to show mercy, because I have ALREADY been shown mercy… countless times.
Mercy for love’s sake
Mercy was so freely given that it was extended from Jesus to demons. Mercy is extended to us daily and is an example for us to follow. The command to love others as He loves us… it’s so simple, yet so incredibly hard to walk it out without Christ, but with His help we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Mercy means laying down our stones and picking up His love to cast on all those that come near. If we are going to cast anything, let it be love, grace, forgiveness, hope, joy, peace and mercy, all given to us freely and so, freely we should give. Let’s not cast stones, but rather love and show mercy without measure. It is my earnest prayer that because we are human, God continues to show us more mercy than we show either to ourselves or to others and continues to teaches us how to love as beautifully and deeply as He does. God is love. If we can show mercy for no other good reason, let us do it for love’s sake. Join me in prayer and let’s ask God to show us how to have unbelievable, unrelenting, unimaginable and unyielding mercy… like Jesus.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (John 8:1-11)
God’s mercy, His grace and love be to you always,