Rich in Mercy

Bible Reading: Luke 9:51-56

Luke 9:53-56, “And they did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face to Jerusalem.  And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them [some later Mss. add “and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of’”]. And they went on to another village.”

The time for Jesus’ departure drew near, so He “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).  He had foretold of his pending death.  Though the disciples couldn’t understand what he was talking about, He himself was fully aware of what lay ahead.  He was fully submitted to drinking from that bitter cup of betrayal, injustice, affliction, sorrow, and death.  He was resolute and determined and would not be dissuaded from His mission.

The life of Jesus is filled with examples which speak to the riches of His mercy—he relentlessly and compassionately concerned Himself with the needs of others.  According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, mercy is “the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.”  Mercy is something that we need and can relate to.  There is no greater demonstration of mercy than what we find in Christ’s redemptive mission (Luke 19:10).

On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus sent messengers ahead to a village of the Samaritans to plan for Himself and His disciples (Luke 9:51-52).  Yet, since He was on His way to Jerusalem, the Samaritans refused to receive Him.  The Samaritans had no regard for Jerusalem and in that they shared in a centuries old disagreement with the Jews (John 4:9, 20).  Jesus’ request of the Samaritans for hospitality was refused, which was too much for James and John.  Their prejudice combined with the Samaritan’s inhospitality made them mad, so mad they asked Jesus if He wanted them destroyed!  How contrary their thinking to that of their Master!

It is possible for us to entertain similar thoughts regarding the enemies of Christ and His gospel.  How deeply ingrained in the hearts of men is the spirit which gave rise to the disciple’s request!  Through the course of history, thousands and tens of thousands all ‘round the world have been put to death for religion’s sake.  They’ve been crucified, burned at the stake, shot, or otherwise brutalized. These perpetrators of violence have even supposed themselves to be doing God a favor!  Some time ago I read an account of Anne Askew’s life.  A believer in Christ, she was burned at-the-stake in 1546 by so-called Christians, because she refused to recant her disbelief in the doctrine of transubstantiation.  The spirit which would incite that kind of hatred does not come from God!

There is a spiritual war ongoing.  Some are unsuspectedly led to fight against the wrong enemy, with the wrong weapons. We, as believers, are called upon to “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18), but not against flesh and blood and not with carnal weapons (Ephesians 6:12).  For “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).  

James and John’s response was strikingly inconsistent with that which they had witnessed in Christ.  There would come a day in the villages of Samaria when the gospel of Jesus would receive a warm reception (Acts 8:14, 25).  The Apostle John was sent there, perhaps to the same village.  One wonders what he must have thought as he recalled his previous ill-founded request seeking their destruction!  By the Spirit he was transformed and then instructed and empowered to compassionately reach out to those he had previously despised.  

“God is rich in mercy, and, by the Spirit, those who claim His name should be too.”

Jerry Conklin


God Forgave My Sin In Jesus’ Name
I’ve Been Born Again In Jesus’ Name
And In Jesus’ Name I Come To You
To Share His Love As He Told Me To

He Said: ‘Freely, Freely, You Have Received
Freely, Freely Give
Go In My Name, And Because You Believe
Others Will Know That I Live.’

All Power Is Given In Jesus’ Name
In Earth And Heaven In Jesus’ Name
And In Jesus’ Name I Come To You
To Share His Power As He Told Me To

He Said: ‘Freely, Freely, You Have Received
Freely, Freely Give
Go In My Name, And Because You Believe
Others Will Know That I Live.’

Text and Music: Carol Owens
Copyright 1972 by Lexicon Music, Inc.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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