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The young man was raging with anger. He was just a boy really, but his anger and actions were those of someone older. A bigger boy had been teasing him and in his fun had unwittingly stepped into an area that instantly brought rage in the one he was teasing.
The fun quickly changed to fighting and the fighting became a matter of survival for the one doing the teasing. He was warding off fists and kicks when suddenly he was thrown to the ground on his back and out of nowhere a sharp object was pointing at his heart.
Just as quickly, a man in his early twenties was standing over both of them and had the attacker by the arm, preventing him from stabbing the boy on the ground. “What are you doing,” he yelled at the attacker, “Stop this now!”
He pulled the attacker off the boy who had been teasing him. The twenty year-old was a volunteer police officer, showed his badge, and told the young man he was under arrest. The boy who had been doing the teasing jumped up and ran home.
The volunteer policeman and the attacker began walking down the street. “I am not going to cuff you or take you to the station. Instead, I am going take you to another office and you will receive a different kind of sentencing.”
They continued walking and talking. The boy shared his struggle with anger and the officer spoke calmly and compassionately.
Instead of yelling and demeaning him like he was used to hearing, words of care and encouragement were spoken. The walk and conversation continued for a lengthy time and to the boys surprise they entered the building of the YMCA.
He was taken to the office of the manager and sentenced to one month of weekly attendance at the “Y” activities.
There was never an official record made of the attempted murder.
This act of mercy by a volunteer police officer and the kindness and positive Christian atmosphere of the YMCA were the initial steps that would lead this ten year-old boy to life transformation.
Six years later, there was another act of mercy from a Christian leader, following an explosion of his anger, that led him to a full encounter with Almighty God bringing him to repentance and a born again experience.
This wonderful triumph of mercy is not unlike the event that took place in Jericho two millennia ago.
Jesus Christ was completing a ministry journey that took him from the Galilee Region back to Jerusalem. He traveled through the city of Jericho. A huge crowd gathered around Him as he was passing through the city.
One man who desperately wanted to see Jesus climbed a tree to get a full view of Him. The Lord looked up and seeing the man in the tree said, “Zacchaeus, come down I want to eat dinner at your house today.”
Many in the crowd were offended.
This man was the chief tax collector in that area.
He had become very wealthy from over taxing people and corruption. How could this prophet of God go to the home of someone so unclean?
Didn’t he know what this man is like?
Jesus was not moved by the emotions of the crowd or the opinions of the critical and judgmental religious leaders. He shared love and compassion with a man who desperately needed what he could not earn and certainly did not deserve.
Before that day was over, a corrupt and dishonest tax collector repented of his sin and made restitution. Jesus declared, “Today, salvation has come to this house.” Mercy had triumphed!
That is God’s great desire for every person.
Look with me at the words of Jesus on another occasion with another tax collector. Again there were people complaining and criticizing Jesus for going to the home of a man so corrupt. Again, the religious leaders were critical and judgmental of a prophet of God associating with someone unclean. Matthew, the tax collector for the region around Capernaum, became Matthew an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The words of our Lord to the religious leaders on this occasion are profound.
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ for I did not come to call the righteous but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13 NKJV).
Faith is not only measured by how much a person sacrifices to serve the Lord but how much mercy do they show to those around them?
Every day there are those around who do not deserve kindness or compassion.
There are co-workers, neighbors, family members who treat people disrespectfully or who are belligerent. They don’t deserve words of love and affirmation but they desperately need them.
Every one of us has someone in our life that hurt us deeply or offended us greatly. They do not deserve blessing and kindness but punishment for what they have done. But, they desperately need mercy. Who will show them how to find Calvary and the forgiveness that only comes from the loving heart of our Lord Jesus Christ?
If mercy is to triumph three things must happen.
First, there must be people who have experienced mercy and are humbled by the magnitude of the love and forgiveness from Almighty God and the Christians who have influenced their life.
Second, those who have experienced mercy must allow the Holy Spirit to wash their eyes, their ears, and their minds with the love, mercy and grace of Almighty God. This will enable them see others with the eyes of God’s love. This will open their ears to hear the cries of the desperate ones around them. This will clear their mind to think of others with the compassion and grace of Heavenly Father.
Third, those who have experienced mercy must give mercy to those who do not deserve it and cannot earn it. They must release all accounts and all judgment against those who have deeply hurt them; greatly offended them; and painfully abused them. The release of mercy to those who have caused personal injury will open their heart to give mercy to those around them who are sinful and unlovable.
Mercy freely received and freely given will open the gateway for mercy to flow to those around us who have no knowledge of God or the great love expressed at Calvary.
It is not a denial of wrong and sinful behavior. It is not overlooking evil and corruption. Rather it is the full recognition that sinful people desperately need the grace of a loving Savior who can transform their life.
Mercy triumphed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Mercy triumphed on Mount Calvary.
Mercy triumphed in the empty tomb.
Mercy triumphs in the heart of every sinner who encounters the love and grace of Almighty God and is born again.