Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Mathew 5:7

Dear readers,

Famous Dutch painter Rembrandt sketched the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke's Gospel chapter 10, 25 f) in a small sketch. Unfortunately, I cannot show you this pen drawing for copyright reasons, but I will briefly describe it: a naked young man is sitting at the doctor who bends over one leg of the patient and looks closely at the wound.

Rembrandt sketched this drawing around 1650. This depiction is as realistic as if the young man (he was the victim of a brutal robbery) would be treated by a surgeon in a hospital.

Rembrandt draws with a few strokes, what mercy really is: the relief of misery. The patient is the victim of a robbery. The Good Samaritan becomes a pictorial physician who relieves the misery of a man.

A merciful man wants to relieve the misery of others. He does not eliminate the cause, but he relieves the pain, he makes the situation bearable for the other. He helps in need.

So too is the Lord´s mercy. Since the expulsion from paradise man lives under the curse of sin. That's why we need forgiveness constantly. But the consequence of a sin does not automatically disappear when it is forgiven. The consequences of injustice do not simply dissipate through the grace of God. Anyone who mentally or physically injured others causes pain and misery in someone else's life - often with themselves. Sometimes for the whole life! Mercy is needed to be able to live with the consequences.

God is merciful because the consequences of sin are not extinguished. Using the example of the Good Samaritan, Jesus makes it clear that the young man became a victim of evil people. They stripped him naked and beat him half dead. The Samaritan felt sorry for him and provided first aid. He took him to someone who could take care of him. He even paid the bill. With his mercy, the Samaritan eased the misery of this helpless man. However, he could of course not undo the cruel act.

God is just as merciful to us when we are attacked by robbers. What sin keeps attacking me? What sin robs me of sleep? What robs me of vitality? What kind of guilt robs me of joy and peace? King David prayed (Psalm 32, 1 – 3) “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. First my Lord, I wanted to silence my guilt, however, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”

God will forgive us our guilt, if we ask for it. When this is settled, God can provide mercy and ease the misery we have brought upon us through sin.

When Adam and Eve recognized their sin, they were hiding from God. They were ashamed. Naked, they stood in front of their creator and tried to hide their shame from God. In this situation God showed his mercy: he put skins on them and he covered them (Genesis 3:21). The consequences of disobedience were not lifted. But God gave them back their dignity.

When Jesus was executed on the cross of Golgotha, the soldiers stripped him from his clothes. Naked he hung on the cross. The people showed no mercy with the man, who is full of mercy. Jesus Christ for me is the merciful one, who bends over me like a doctor and treats my emotional wounds. Who comforts me when I feel miserable. He is suffering with me. What God has promised  long ago  to His people of  Israel is still true to us today: "For I am the Lord, your healer.” (Ex. 15:26)

I wish you a blessed week!

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© 2020 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main