(Part 28)


March 9, 2016

Today’s readings:

Isaiah 49:8-15

Psalm 145:8-18

John 5:17-30

“The Lord is just in all his ways, merciful in all his works.” (Ps 145:17). Justice and mercy go together. But is not justice exacting the punishment that is deserved, while mercy is not exacting the punishment that is deserved? Well, God is both about justice and mercy. He is merciful and will always desire to extend His mercy, but He is also just and will have to punish those who refuse His mercy. And so as God is both just and merciful, it is now up to us what we are to experience.

Mercy is an invitation to repentance. It is God saying “to the prisoners: Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves!” (Is 49:9a). It is God manifesting His great love for sinners. “For he who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water.” (Is 49:10b). It is God who continues to call on those who have strayed and reaped the consequences of their transgressions. “For the Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted.” (Is 49:13b). But if we refuse to turn from our evil ways, then we refuse God’s mercy, then we reap the consequences.

God does not want to punish us, for we are His beloved children. The Lord is “loving in all his works.” (Ps 145:13c). But if we go on the wrong path, then punishment is just what is needed to bring us back. Justice is precisely a function of God’s mercy. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.” (Ps 145:8).

How then are we to experience God’s mercy? We put our faith in Jesus and obey his word. Then we move from the darkness of sin to life in him. “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” (Jn 5:24).

Mercy then is an invitation to heaven. There will be a final judgment, and people will go separate ways, “those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.” (Jn 5:29). It will be our choice. What can assure us of heaven is God’s mercy.

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