Mission: Mercy…Oh, and Healing TooOctober 24, 2021
Who knew that healing was an act of God’s mercy? How can we possibly understand the power of healing mercy in our own lives? It’s something that I am just now truly learning. Jesus responds to pleas for mercy. We know that Jesus delighted to hear people asking Him for mercy. Jesus’ purpose in one way or another is mercy and He is delighted when people ask Him for mercy.
Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. (Matt.20:29-34)
So how does this help us understand the meaning of mercy, you may ask. Well, Jesus showed mercy to these men. Importantly, prior to Jesus restoring their sight, these men were in a miserable state. When Jesus is confronted with the realities of human brokenness, poverty, and pain, He feels them. He empathizes with the suffering and His empathy moves Him to act…to use His power to set them free.
The Greek word for mercy is eleeō (el-eh-eh’-o) which means “to be compassionate by word or deed, specifically by divine grace.” It means to feel sympathy or pity toward the pain of another person, particularly in such a way that we are moved to act to help them. Jesus likewise shows “mercy” when He heals…not because the illness or wound should be understood as a just punishment from which God is releasing the afflicted, but because the suffering of others moves Him.
When Matthew says that Jesus had compassion on them, he used an incredibly special word. The original word is a very remarkable one (splagchnizomai – splangkh-nid’-zom-ahee). It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is, it was a word coined by the writers themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels…a yearning of the innermost nature with pity.
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited (weary, harassed, scattered) like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36).
Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. (Mk.1:40-42)
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matt.14:14)
And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. (Lk.7:12-15)
The widow’s only son was everything to her as well as the solace of her old age. When Jesus saw the disconsolate mother, He was moved with compassion, and He restored her son. Interestingly, the blind men don’t ask Jesus for a specific act of healing. They simply cry out for mercy: Lord, see us, feel for us, care about us, and act on our behalf. Maybe they believed He could heal. Maybe they were just hoping for alms.
The blind men realized what the basis was of them receiving any help from Jesus. They appealed to His mercy, which is another way of saying that they realized that they did not deserve any help that He might give to them. Any blessing that they would receive would come through His mercy. They did not deserve a blessing merely because they were destitute.
Mercy is more than a feeling; it is always followed by an action. And it’s not selfish either. Matthew stresses the way that the two blind men were concerned for one another. They did not say, ‘Have mercy on me,’ but ‘Have mercy on us.’ Their united desire was for each of them to enjoy the blessing of Jesus.
But…there is a great responsibility and obligation to God for showing His healing mercies toward us. He wants us to give Him all we are in return.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. (Rom.12:1)
Many Christians pray for God’s favor over their lives. They seek God’s giving hand. There’s nothing wrong with that. But before we ask for favor, maybe we should be asking mercy. Jesus really is on a mission of mercy! (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of favor)