Sunday, November 29, 2015

Have Mercy On Me

“He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Luke 18:38

When the blind man begging beside the roadside in Jericho heard a commotion he wanted to know what was happening.  He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.

When he called out to Jesus, the blind man swapped titles. He called out to Jesus, Son of David, not Jesus of Nazareth. And that caught Jesus’ attention.  Jesus of Nazareth is just a geographical title, pointing to a place on a map and carrying with it assumptions people thought they knew about people that came from there's.

The title “Jesus, Son of David” points to a place in time, and a promise made by God. It was a Messianic title reserved for the long-awaited Deliverer and the fulfilment of many Old Testament prophecies. By choosing that name, the blind beggar was expressing a longing for God’s kingdom to be established – a longing for God’s rule through His King and a kingdom that wouldn’t end. He was looking for a Kingdom where there was wholeness and completeness, a kingdom without tears and without pain.  This was the cry of his heart.

When the crowd tried to silence him, he shouted all the louder.

It makes me wonder if my own heart has a cry that will not be silenced by the crowd.

Jesus had the blind man brought over to him.  The title “Jesus, Son of David” had caught His attention and mercy had been asked for.

I have been thinking a lot about that phrase “have mercy on me.” A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we in no way have earned. It came to my mind after I had been catching up with Facebook posts.  The bombing of Paris had been followed by posts announcing how gun-ready and armed people were getting in some parts of America.  There seemed to be no safe places and terrorists lurked behind every Burka clad Muslim woman. Japan, it was posted, had it right by banning Muslims from a whole host of human rights. There were a few lone voices appealing for calm. 

I sensed an anger in me that Christians who speak about the love of God could be so lacking in compassion for the Muslim majority who have nothing to do with ISIS or terrorism. 

In the middle of a divine encounter, when God is talking about the destruction of Sodom, Abraham stepped into the conversation:-

“Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:23-25)

It seems that we are not willing to be like the Judge of all the earth and do right. To ensure the end of the minority, we are willing to sacrifice the majority, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. If we are so swift to defend ourselves and so savagely, when do we allow God to fight on our behalf? When do we step aside and let God fight for us? Is this too big and issue, too important a battle to leave it up to God? Perhaps we are just not interested in God showing any mercy.

The cry of my heart?  I think I have discovered it.  If Jesus asked me what I want Him to me to do for me it would have nothing to do with ISIS at all.  I want to be always tender-hearted, giving and embracing. I want to be always able to show love.  His mercy towards me would be in His intervening in my life to stop me following a path of hard-heartedness.

Jesus gave the blind man what he asked for. He restored his sight.  Loud again, he praised God.  This time there was no crowd telling him to quieten down.  They joined in.  The blind man was a catalyst, a pivotal point in the community.  The crowd who had had no personal interest in Jesus turned from being interested observers to active worshippers.

Amazing things happen when we cry out to Jesus, Son of David, and ask for mercy,  Not for someone else, but for oursleves.  Not pointing out what is wrong with the other person, but what is worng with us.

"Have mercy on me," is becoming the cry of my heart.

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