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Mercy Without Excuses

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One day my youngest son said to me, “Mom, how can people who don’t know God, know that God is good – unless God’s people are good to them?”

Profound. I love how God speaks directly to my heart through my children.

He’s so right.

When it came to mercy and demonstrations of God’s goodness, Jesus ruled as king. He is, after all, the exact representation of God in human form. The fullness of God lives in him.

While others made excuses to justify withholding mercy, Jesus risked his reputation to demonstrate it. When others reeked of apathy, he burned with a compelling desire to help.

John Piper says, “Jesus’ entire ministry was shaped by the insight that mercy is the ultimate meaning of God’s law.” (Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, Copyright 2004, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, Page 89)


From: heckyeahjesussaves.tumblr.com/

Here’s a true story that demonstrates what I’m talking about.

One day, a woman wandered into one of the synagogues where Jesus was teaching. It was the Sabbath. She had been crippled by a demonic spirit for eighteen years. Her body was bent over like a crooked old tree. She couldn’t straighten up at all.

Her daily life must have been absolutely miserable. Ordinary tasks would have been extremely difficult. Bathing and fixing her own hair could literally have taken hours to accomplish.

When Jesus saw this woman, he was immediately overcome with compassion. Nothing could stop him from helping her . . . not even the mindsets, prejudices, or criticism of others.

Sabbath or not, he called her forward and vanquished the evil spirit inside her. After freeing her from the burgeoning weight of that spirit’s control, he lovingly placed his hands on her and brought relief to her crooked body. She straightened up.

Gratitude infused her. She walked away praising God for her spiritual and physical freedom. In contrast, the synagogue ruler was furious because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath – a day when work of any kind was prohibited according to Jewish law.

The woman’s suffering hadn’t affected him at all. Legalism and apathy filled his dead heart. He apparently thought it would be no big deal for this woman with the wrenched and twisted body to come back for healing on another day.

He haughtily turned to the people in the synagogue and said, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” (Luke 13:14)

He justified his anger by wrapping it in a “righteous” explanation, using the law as an excuse to withhold mercy. Mercy had to be on his terms – in his timeframe.

And Jesus was verbally disgraced for a scandalous act of mercy.

In the end, Jesus exposed the ruler’s cruel indifference and contempt for the suffering of human beings. He pointed out that the religious leaders took care of their animals’ needs on the Sabbath. Wasn’t this woman more important? (See Luke 13:15-16)

The laws and rituals of the Jewish culture weren’t meant to be an end in and of themselves. They were meant to direct people toward Christ – the one who would come as the personification of God’s indescribable mercy.

When Jesus came, he made no excuses. He set a different standard. With his whole person . . . his whole life, he pointed the world to God’s infinite compassion and mercy for sinners and sufferers alike.

He showed the world how good God is.

He wants to do the same through his followers today . . . as he lives in and through them. Are you a follower of Christ? If so, does your life point people to the goodness of God? Are there excuses you need to lay down in order to demonstrate his mercy? Are you willing to risk your reputation to reflect his heart to the world?


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  1. Lisa, I love Josh’s quote. It fed my soul today.

    “Mom, how can people who don’t know God, know that God is good–unless God’s people are good to them?” An incredible statement!

  2. Carey says:

    Good, convicting, and powerful. I’m “stealing” his quote to put in my FB stream… good stuff!

  3. Fleda says:

    The wisdom of little children is amazing! They keep it simple and get it right.

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