By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
Many of us have been captivated and moved to tears throughout each episode of the life of Christ movie series entitled, The Chosen. Each episode has given us an intimate look at Jesus as He calls together a band of disciples who will be the foundation for both the beginning of the church and the spread of the gospel. The third season has just begun and the first episode begins with the “Sermon on the mount.” Jesus’ amazing sermon began with what we have come to call “The Beatitudes.” I have already shared several articles following the “blessed are” declarations that Jesus made that day to a huge crowd that had gathered on a little hillside up from the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, speaking of the Kingdom of God, declared that blessed are those who: are poor in spirit; mourn, are gentle, and hunger and thirst after righteousness. The fifth “blessed” statement that He made was, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7)
When Jesus spoke these words to the multitude, there was no doubt that He could see in His heart and mind’s-eye that moment in the not-so-distant future when His final act of mercy would allow God’s redemption to take place. Christ’s willing sacrifice on Calvary’s cross was a supreme act of mercy!
I invite you to see mercy through the image of the Son of God, who came to offer broken, sinful, and separated mankind God’s supreme gift of mercy. He came to suffer and die! He took upon Himself all of the sins of humanity and became the suffering servant of whom Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 53:3-7, “He was despised and abandoned by men, A man of great pain and familiar with sickness; And like one from whom people hide their faces, He was despised, and we had no regard for Him. However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore, And our pains that He carried; Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted, Struck down by God, and humiliated. But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings [inequities]; The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, And by His wounds we are healed. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.”
In dying as the suffering servant, Jesus’ sacrificial death appeased Holy God’s demand for righteousness and set you and me free from the penalty of sin. That’s called mercy! In other words, God didn’t give us what we truly deserved! He accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death as our propitiation or replacement for the guilt of our sins.
I am quite certain that when Jesus opened His mouth and declared, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy,” He had the agony of the cross on His mind. For it was the mercy of the Lord which drove Jesus to offer Himself for your sins and mine! It was God’s great grace driven by love that moved Him to offer His life a ransom for yours!
Again, mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve! We do deserve death—for every one of us has sinned and turned away from God. We deserve eternal punishment because our sins have separated us from our loving Creator. We deserve nothing! God’s mercy, however, gives us everything! May His grace and mercy be poured out upon you today!
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.
Read more from Dr. Hodges here.