From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:… Matthew 5:1-2 NIV

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7 NIV

Let’s remember the context of the verses above. Jesus was seated; He was teaching his disciples; the crowd was listening. In the beatitudes, Jesus was describing what a disciple is, what he or she does and what he or she looks like following such injunctions.  “[He] has put together a profile of kingdom-people, twice born people, Spirit-filled people. Jesus is describing a humanity transformed by Him and His good news.” The Beatitudes, p.16, Darrell W. Johnson.

Keeping this in mind, let’s think about what Jesus meant by being merciful and showing mercy to others. There are two excellent parables Jesus taught that clearly describe mercy. The first is about the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. As you reread this familiar parable, think about the risks the Samaritan took, the fact he didn’t need to know why the man was hurt and in need, but he simply acted. The Samaritan showed kindness and compassion – he displayed mercy to a stranger in need.

In another parable, Jesus taught a different aspect of mercy – the forgiveness of a debt. This parable is in Matthew 18:21-35. As you reread this parable, think about how you feel when someone has forgiven you for an offense you caused. Then, think about the question Peter asked at the beginning, how often should I forgive my brother? Consider – mercy cancels debts.

Let us remember – Jesus came to this earth to extend mercy to all who will accept His gift of grace that is offered because of the sacrifice He made on the cross, because of our sin. We deserve to die for our own sin, but instead, Jesus paid that price, canceled our debt and extended mercy to each of us who choose to accept it.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:21 NIV

So, if we are unwilling to forgive, nor to extend mercy to others, while at the same time asking God to give us mercy, then we are not really asking for mercy, instead we are in fact not in right relationship with God.

Pray the Lord’s prayer and think about how the mercy God has extended to you enables you to extend mercy to others around you.

`Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. *For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

* Note. This benediction is quoted in many other versions of verse 13, translations based upon the Textus Receptus.