And we will be continuing again in Matthew chapter five, reading the beatitudes.
If you would join with me, I’m going to be reading the beatitudes, starting in the beginning, and then going through our beatitude this morning, which is blessed are the merciful this in Matthew chapter five. Now, when Jesus saw the crowd, he went up on the mountain side and sat down. His disciples, came to him and he began to teach them.
He said, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for, they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for, they will be shown mercy.
Pray with me this morning.
father. We pray along with David in Psalm 86, that you O Lord or a God full of compassion and gracious, long suffering and abundant in mercy and truth. We confess in Psalm one 45, that you are gracious full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all his tender mercies are overall his works.
And even as we begin looking at scripture this morning, we pray for your merciful. Continual gracious hand over Don and his family. We rejoice with the fruit of his pastoral ministry here that will live on for decades to come. When we pray for those of us who have been deeply blessed under his teaching and care, the mercy we have received from his gifting and love and pray that you would watch over us, have mercy on us as we, um, seek to digest and, um, go on from this morning after hearing difficult news in Jesus’ name.
Amen. Difficult, but good news. It is good news. Four things I want to talk about in this passage on blessed are the merciful for, they will be shown mercy. The first things is the dimensions. Have mercy that, what is the dimensions? What is this idea of mercy mean? Believe that it is multi-dimensional this Greek word for mercy or merciful comes from the root root word.
Ellie OS Les has two components. It has both an outside and an inside dimension to it. The outside the actions. Of mercy mercy that is done through action from one person to another in Matthews, we see how he uses this word throughout his gospel. We have a phrase that goes along with Les it’s. This phrase have mercy and four times in the gospel.
This phrase have mercy is shouted out to Christ in Matthew nine 27, a blind blind men come to Jesus and say, have mercy on us. Matthew 1522, a mother cries out for their child have mercy on me. Matthew 17, 15, a father cries out have mercy on my son, Matthew 2030 blind men come to Jesus and say, have mercy on us.
The response, the request for mercy. Is one of action. It’s interesting that, that it is, it is the giving of an undeserved gift or relief or help. Mercy is not just about forgiveness. Mercy and forgiveness are incredibly linked to one another, but mercy is not just about sparing judgment. In fact, in all of the have mercy upon us, the call was not have mercy and spare me the bad things I deserve.
The call was have mercy and grant me the gift that I don’t forgiveness and that, and mercy are connected. Forgiveness is an undeserved gift, but this mercy incorporates more than just relief. It is the action of a gift relief or help. There’s an outward action, but mercy also has an inside life in inside dimension.
Strongs calls this, the feeling excited by someone’s misery. There is more than action. There is an inner depth. This is why we see in the new Testament. So often before Jesus does an act of mercy. He is described as one with compassion. Mercy is motivated by the action motivated by the inner life, which leads to the outer life of mercy.
Jesus tells a story and good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10, and they come to him. The religious teachers come and say, all right, tell me what’s the greatest commandment. And he says, love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as ourself. Okay. All right. That’s pretty good answer.
So who’s my neighbor says, so he tells them the story tells them the story of, of a man who was beaten and left by the side of the road in a dangerous part of town. And the Levi goes by CS crosses over. Make sure he doesn’t get close to the damage and goes by the priest. A priest comes by, sees him again, thinks all, man, this could be a trick.
I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. This is too risky, too unsafe and passes the other side. Then a Samaritan man comes and it says this. He took, it was, he was affected. He took pity on this person. His inner life led him to extreme self-sacrificing outer mercy. And he goes, and he helps. The man gives of himself, gives him his time, gives up his money to provide for this person.
Jesus says, which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell in the hands of the robbers? The experts in the law said the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told them go and do likewise. Now if mercy just lives in the inner dimension just lives on our insides. We feel bad. We take pity.
We, we, we are sorry, but it just doesn’t lead to outer action. Mercy is pointless and gutless, but if mercy also is only on the outside is only action. It’s usually sourced injustice desire for us to feel good about ourselves. Or to relieve guilt because we know it’s probably what we should do anyway.
This type of mercy that we outwardly do something, but are not inwardly impacted by the pain or loss or sense of need of someone else. Doesn’t last, very long. There’s a scene from a show Superstore. The Superstore is a comedy and, and, uh, during this, their store is doing a drive in one of their shows is doing a dry for underprivileged children in the store.
And so as customers come in the main character, Jonah and, and Amy, they’re asking people to give to this charity. And so one comes in and they asked him to do a man comes in, they ask him to donate, and the man said this, I would have donated, but I already gave to the St. Louis Samaritans earlier today, I already gave, and I posted on social media about it.
So it’d be weird to post again. And so Jonah said, couldn’t you just donate and not post. And the guy said, so like you would post it and then tag me. And then he said, or you would just be helping some underprivileged kids from Jonah. And the guy said, and they would post it. Do those underprivileged kids have phones.
Like this was the concern. This is the nature of when we are outwardly motivated, we can get us a good status or it can get us a quick trip to help out. But when we are out with the motivated, uh, driven by the excitement of helping someone out, but are not inwardly motivated by deeply caring for the plight of another individual.
It doesn’t last past self-motivation real mercy extends farther than that, or it will be cheap and never remain truly merciful when it’s hard dimensions of mercy inside and outside. Secondly, the source of mercy, the source of mercy, where does mercy, what is mercy all about as I’ve looked into what mercy is and how it’s being used in the new Testament?
This is what I believe the source of mercy is power. Mercy has everything to do with power. The fundamental mercy fundamentally is someone who has power, giving a gift to someone who doesn’t in a particular situation. Now that power could be power of position, someone indebted by sin, and you have that position of being right.
When they have been wrong, that position could be one of money. It could be a position of being an employer or a teacher or a parent. It is someone who has the power who can call the shot in a given situation and uses that power. Self-sacrificing only for someone in this situation who doesn’t could be the power of influence, those who are secure and a group using their influence to care and look out for those who are not the power of ownership, the power of ownership over our pets, over our property, over our stuff, over our land, the power of indebtedness, someone being wronged or sinned against.
Have the power over them, the power of resource, those who have resources have and giving it to those who don’t mercy is not just about the muscle of forgiveness. It is about the, the godly Christ orientation of using the muscle of power. Now, power has owned has earned its own bad reputation. For me, I had to do my masters and my master’s project and did it on the generation I grew up in and a lot of that research was done in study done is what happened in the relationship of my generation.
To authority to power be it, when I grew up in my generation, every generation has their story. Power was not seen as something benevolent. It was became seen as something corrupt news cycles took off in ways that that hadn’t been understood before video cameras became much more prolific and news cycles, new stations, news, media outlets, the internet kicking off allowed lots of news of bad things happening for those in power and the safe structures, which we thought were safe soon became suspect schools.
Shooting of Columbine happened when I was in high school and all of a sudden that safe place, that event ripped up our idea that this is a safe structure. Now there are, um, Right drills for when shooters might come in and then all of the prolific news coverage post Columbine that has happened because of school shootings.
We watched the Rodney King beatings happen on TV by police officers, deeply disruptive politicians. This was right in the middle of the bill Clinton in the scandals. And that happened, those public servants are now seen as corrupt. This is happening right as the scandals within the Catholic church, particularly not that it doesn’t happen in other churches, including Protestant, but the sex scandals from what happened in many rings within the priests of the Catholic church, became very public and Ron and, and all of the corruption that has shown in big business mixed with child labor laws and people finding out where their goods were, what happened was structures that were thought to be safe.
Those power places were now seen as corrupt. My generation had more money pumped into it than any generation in the history of the world in order to advertise. So what naturally happens in my generation when we see an advertising, we think, ah, they are just after my money, they’re lying to me. There’s an immediate cynicism.
If it comes from power, it is corrupt to have power became. So having something dirty, public servants were slimy politicians or officers on power trips, concerned. Parents were overly oppressive. Jerks. Wholly leaders were creepy. Clergy leaders of the free market were just privileged CEOs, hoarding their wealth and exploiting others.
This is just, and you say, wow, who are those people that have that mindset? Me? I am most people. I have a hard time with power. I, what I say when we talk about even leadership is I love leadership. I don’t love authority, right? Like I don’t that whole sense of power and control for me feels dirty. And I grew up in a general ration that had even less access to information than ones that many of you who are younger are growing up in now.
Power control just seems corrupt this last week, as we had seven mass shootings in seven days, the last of which in Boulder, Colorado. The last of which that I’m aware of, there may have been more forgive me if I don’t know that in Boulder, Colorado, there was at a grocery store, an hour long standoff, I believe was seven people, including an officer killed.
There was a man who was interviewed at the scene, who’s from Boulder. And he said, Boulder’s like a bubble. He said, I felt like this was a safe place. And he was quoted about this. He says, it doesn’t feel like there’s anywhere safe anymore. That’s a lot, our relationship with power power. Absolutely. I’ve had a hard time with power.
So it’s connection to mercy at first is not an attractive one. To me. Power can be use to exploit or preserve the one empower. The reason that many of us have a hard time with power is because we have seen how selfishly and cruelly it can be used. But when we look at the scripture power while so often use to exploit and hurt, ultimately is a gift of God.
And hear me what I am saying, what I’m not saying here. Psalm eight says this, talking about how God created people. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crying, crown them with glory and honor, you have made them rulers over the works of your hands. You put everything under their feet, Psalm eight, five, and six.
When God created people, he gave them this theological concept of dominion of power over creation. You are a powerful. Being every one of us has power. And that is we are called to steward that in the way that our cane operates, every one of us has power and everywhere here, this that we have power. It is a gift to be used.
Benevolently. It is an incredible chance to build the kingdom of God with Christ because here is how power is used in the kingdom. Blessed are the merciful for, they will be shown mercy. See, and very obvious from that logical step is without mercy from power. Mercy cannot exist. If those in power do not give mercy, mercy will never ever happen.
If by definition cannot. And this is what I would say, dear Christian, dear one, who follows the name of Jesus. And if you are here and you’re like, do not call me dear Christian first, Deere’s weird. Okay. I mean, if you’re here and you’re like, not, you’re not saying I want to follow this Christ. I would say you might even be put off by how Christians have used power, but if you claim the name of Jesus, you who, us, who in our place in the world hold so much of the world’s wealth hold much of the world’s privilege.
We must use power for mercy. If I asked your children, if I asked your employees, if I asked those who have wronged you past or present, if I asked your vendors that you work with, that you buy from and do business with. So if I ask those who have I asked your spouse, who you have mistreated, if I asked your customers, if I asked your friends with different political views from you, if I saw how I spent your money, would we be known as those use our power for mercy?
Would we be known as those who are merciful, invest in mercy, practice her mercy when it’s easy, when it’s hard, Micah six, eight. Says, he has shown you a mortal. What is good? What is the Lord required to act justly and love mercy to walk humbly with your God? If, if we could see all of what, how we deal, would we be known as people that man, they just love mercy because mercy has everything to do with the gifts of power that we have in our lives.
Third, the application of mercy, the application of mercy, mercy needs to be seasoned when it is served, mercy needs to be done well, like all of the gifts that we’ve been given, all the commandments that we are called to, it must be done well, mercy without love. Gains nothing. First Corinthians 13 three. If I give away all, I have an act of mercy.
If I deliver up my body to be burned an act of mercy, but do not have love. I gain nothing. It profits the mercy giver nothing. If it is done outside of love, outward mercy without inward love is not mercy or does not. And does not produce secondly, mercy without wisdom is reckless. First Corinthians five, a Paul takes on a situation in the Corinthian church and he takes it on strong.
You would not walk away and say, wow, in that instance, Paul was so calm and passive and quiet and gentle and merciful. He actually takes on a person and says this about someone in the first Corinthians church. He says, when you are assembled in my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus hand, this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.
So his spirit may be saved on the day day of the Lord. The goal that Paul has for this individual is that he might be awoken and understand the great, he has the highest spiritual good in mind for this person, but the way that he applies that mercy is intense. It’s not gentle. It is for the sake of the person, but wisdom is required for how we apply such mercy.
So, and here’s where I want us to be real careful, because oftentimes what happens is those of those in situations that are not in a power position are told, you’re the ones who are always supposed to be merciful, be merciful and take it easy on those who are in power. It’s a tough job, right? And so what can happen when we’re talking about blessed are the merciful.
If we don’t apply, wisdom is we can enable abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is not wise. To simply act like nothing has happened forgiven. No problem. If you are being oppressed by a system, a person, a situation, and the calling of be merciful and just keep on forgiving is being used as a club over your head.
The great action of love is not passive acceptance. Honestly, this is where we need to be talking with wise people in our life, not just being held under water by, Hey, you have to be merciful because the action of mercy is the calling for those in power. There is a calling in wisdom for benevolent resistance, and it could be a great act of courage when being held under.
And forgive me if any of my words. Land on you as, Oh, my calling is just to be always mistreated and to never speak up
last mercy without sacrifice is cowardly. We learned this from our King to truly have mercy. It’s not to just give when it feels convenient or simple. It’s to give of our very selves, who is Jesus. He is the broken body of God’s mercy. He is the actual display of God’s mercy on us. Uh, the Syrian immigration crisis that peaked about four years ago.
Um, was the greatest immigration refugee crisis that happened since world war II. And at, during that time, uh, my wife and I started talking a lot and of course everything gets politicized and we weren’t entering into the politics of it as much as entering into what is the calling of Christ. I had a chance to write a four page letter.
I really want to know if anyone read it, but who knows four pages as long, um, it to Collingswood about what is the Christian call a Mister refugee crisis. And I was able to talk through theologically and looking through some old Testament, new Testament structures of what it calls to, to, to be looking out for the needs of the refugee, that those of us who were in power of, of, of citizenship and power of influence and power of finances would be taking our power and looking towards mercy.
But I had to ask a really tough question. What about my home? What about if it took sacrifice for me beyond just writing a letter? And that was a real difficult question. And one that we had to ask as a family of what if some Syrian refugees are allowed into our country more and there’s no place to stay.
That’s when mercy gets really hard and it takes great commitment because money’s hard to be merciful with our space and time. It’s hard to be merciful with forgiveness is hard. One of the three regrets of the dying and article just published to someone. You can find many of these online of people who have worked in end of life care.
And you’ll often find this among the great desires of the end of life, people, the regret of the dying as they didn’t forgive. Why? Cause it’s hard. It’s really, really, it’s hard, but mercy requires sacrifice or else it has. No teeth has no power. Lastly, and we’ll conclude with this. What is the promise to the merciful in the passage?
Bless it are the merciful for, they will receive mercy. This is where this and the beatitudes are a lot less about how do we maybe do all these things? How do we become poor in spirit? How do we become me? How do we become merciful? And this is a step back and say, Hey, let’s just talk about who’s talking here.
Cause this is about Jesus. This is about his kingdom. This is about his gift to us. When he says blessed are the merciful for, they shall obtain mercy a little bit. You say, well, well, who are you? Like? You’re just a guy on a mountain side with a little following. And you’re saying, while you are standing there and helping the crowd sort of get ordered and walking amongst sins is the Roman guards.
Now there’s tower, right? Who really holds the power in the situation, the guy in the Hill who’s offering some words or the ones who represent the dynastic empire. And, and as Jesus comes up and speaks these words, all of these words, it’s sort of like, who are you. To be able to say merciful receives mercy, right?
I mean, what happens when, how blessed are the merciful read our meats? How real life works? Can Jesus actually say, Oh, I’ll give mercy to those who are merciful. Well, the 48 laws of power is a book that was written a couple of decades ago. And it’s been called like a Machiavellian or a, uh, yes, like the art of war type of book.
And in, in these 48 laws of power, the author tries to draw on what the world actually operates like. And in that book, it talks about things like if you are just appealing for mercy, you are not living the life of power. A New York magazine said, this says, just reading the contents of this is enough to stir a little corner office lust.
One of the reviewers of this book says this. He says some people have trouble with this book because it’s so blatantly power oriented. He said most of their trouble stems from reviewers that believe all people are good inside. And that unicorns deliver their vegan, low fat cappuccino with cream. Well, most people aren’t kind, and this book prepared me for reality.
And I think that’s the question, right? What is real here? So Jesus saying, yes, those who live in this kingdom of giving power away of, of using their power for mercy. And they will be in the very kingdom where mercy is the economy. The hard people who are merciful will obtain mercy. Won’t who are you?
Jesus. Because what often happens is those who are merciful gets stumped on. Let’s talk about the real world, real messy families, where raw, where love can run low and tempers run high real workplaces where money is tight and mistakes need accountability, real communities where needy and difficult people are needy and difficult.
How does this play out? When those around us are competing for scant resources, trying to, to get the next position or posture for the higher place who is Jesus to say the merciful receive mercy. When in real life, it often seems like the merciful, just get run over. Let’s talk about the beatitudes. If Jesus, his kingdom is not that real real quick.
Look, look at these blessed are the poor in spirit. Well, without Jesus promise, those people are just broken. Blessed are those who mourn? What if Jesus, his world is not that real. They’re just in despair. Blessed are the meek. They’re just taking advantage of less than are those who hunger and thirst.
They’re just left. Unsatisfied. Blessed are the merciful. Well, they’re just destroyed. This is why the fundamental question. When we come to this and we come to these beatitudes is not just what the promises are. It’s, who’s making them, it’s the question of what is real life?
What is most real? Because if the beatitudes are absolutely pathetic and terrible, if Jesus is not a King. With real power to Institute them. This is Palm Sunday. This is Jesus getting up on a donkey that has never been written before and is probably skiddish and running around. Like, what are all those dudes with giant branches waving at my face and he’s going through, but how he’s entering the city, he’s entering into the Gates of the city and Jesus on that skiddish donkey.
While along with probably not get a permit for this all kinds of other people and travelers who are annoyed at this scene, Jesus walks through that gate. And what he’s doing is an act of war. He is coming into the city into the powers that be being declared King. And Jesus coming, operating, living, enacting the great Samaritan with his own body and blood declares in a blood bought fashion that this kingdom is real.
And on Easter Sunday Rose again from the dead to say that ultimately to live this way to live downward, to live in, in this meekness and humility, and mercy is not an act of weakness. It is an act of kingdom power. And the question for every single one of us is simply this, how real is this King? Bless it.
Or the merciful. For in this reality, they can be shown mercy because their King has benevolent power. If you would stand and receive the benediction this morning,
this is again, given in the plural blessed are they? It’s not blessed to just the one or blessed it as the man, less than as the woman it’s blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy received this blessing this morning. Bless it are the people that have been so covered in the mercy of the King, that mercy drips off of them everywhere they go.
Bless it are those that use their power to give mercy not hoard privilege, retain position, or use resource just as a way to take care of themselves. Blessing is the community. That shows mercy in places where mercy is most scarce in business practices, where it is most disrespected in homes where it is most foreign, that the kingdom of Jesus Christ may grain ground.
Even there may the reality of the real merciful King. So bind this village together that they operate with mercy that begets mercy, that begets mercy so that it becomes the very economy of real kingdom life. Each looking to give to the other always enough to go around. Bless it is the gift that they give to a tired and judgment filled world that can look on and find lasting hope that there is another real life.
For there is a real and living King who still find Samaritans and ditches and loves to bring them into the family of mercy. God bless you. We are dismissed.