Only those willing to commit the costly act of being merciful will receive mercy in the kingdom of God, because showing mercy is an implication of having saving faith.
- The Sermon on the Mount is a very important body of teaching given by Jesus at a time when he was very popular.
- Jesus intends to show his disciples the issues they will face if they want to be children of God.
- Jesus contrasts his teaching with the teaching of the Pharisees.
- Luke 6 is the same sermon given in shorter version. We can use Luke to understand Matthew and vice versa.
- Jesus speaks cryptically. He makes concise provocative statements that we must think about to understand.
- Jesus makes strong categorical, black and white statements that ultimately reflect the end of a process of struggle, growth and maturity.
- In the beatitudes, Jesus confronts us with fundamental convictions of saving faith.
Each beatitude has 4 features:
- A beatitude tells us WHO is blessed.
- A beatitude tells us WHY such a person is blessed.
- A beatitude tells us ONLY these people are blessed.
- There is something surprising or ironic about these people being blessed.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” – Matthew 5:7
- In a general sense being merciful is acting kindly toward someone beyond what is legally or ethically required.
- More often the word is used in the context of acting kindly toward someone who has wronged me. To be merciful in this sense is to set aside the demands of justice and forgive instead.
- The merciful are fortunate because only they will receive mercy when the kingdom of God comes.
- Compare with Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:32-35; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-13; James 2:13.
- This is surprising because being merciful can be very costly while the one shown mercy appears to get away scot-free.
As surprising as it may seem, those who willing to commit the costly act of being merciful are the ones who are truly fortunate because they and they only will receive mercy when the kingdom of God comes.
Why? The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. – Matthew 18:21-22
- For more detail on the parable listen to: Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
- The rabbis of the day thought you were required to forgive someone 3 times. To forgive 7 times was beyond the call of duty.
- The number 77 is probably symbolic and means unlimited.
- Peter asks: how far does my responsibility go? How much is enough?
- Jesus answers: you have to forgive an unlimited amount. The parable explains why.
23“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” – Matthew 18:23-27
- 10,000 talents is about 2.5 million pieces of silver. This is the equivalent of one person owing the national debt.
- The debt is so large and the price of slavery was considered so small in comparison that what seems like harsh treatment to us is an infinitesimal repayment of the debt.
- The master forgives the servant with no hope of repayment from the servant.
28“But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” – Matthew 18:28-35
- 100 denarii is about 4 pounds of silver. This debt is small and likely to be repaid.
- Someone who has been forgiven such a great debt should understand the value of mercy.
- Once I realize just how deeply I am indebted to God’s grace and dependent on His mercy, I realize I have no right to demand restitution for things others have done to me.
- Recognizing the depth of my sinfulness and my need for God’s grace is an integral part of saving faith.
- Once I recognize my own wretched position, I realize the same standard that condemns my neighbor condemns me.
- In other words, I can’t really be a person who is poor in spirit and mourning over my sin, if I look at other sinners and think I’m somehow better than they are.
- The reason that people who will enter the kingdom of heaven will be forgiving is because forgiveness is an integral part of saving faith; and you must have saving faith to enter the kingdom of God.
- Forgiveness is not the same thing as forgetting. Forgiveness is choosing not to hurt back.
- Forgiveness is not a feeling.
- You may feel guilty and in fact be forgiven. You may feel forgiven and in fact be guilty. Feelings deceive us. What matters is reality.
- Being merciful is another one of those situations we’ll face into as we live our lives. It presents us with a choice and we have to decide what we believe is true.