Often times in life, we become so mired down in the demands of extremes and perfection, that we forget the invincible power of God’s mercy. Some pundits aptly describe God’s mercy, as God, “not giving us the evil that we deserve.” While I believe that this definition may be a bit oversimplified, I also believe that it is an incredibly useful tool to begin to understand God’s willingness to withhold punishment and justice in the face of contrition or perhaps even confusion. One example of the infinite mercy of the Father, is the circumstances which surrounded his Son, Jesus, committing the ultimate act of righteousness on the cross which has freed all of us and will eventually free all of us from the sin which besets us. Jesus was an incredibly righteous man on all accounts, and was and is the greatest being to ever exist. But part of his humility in submitting to the human condition was his willingness to not only be tempted by sin, but occasionally fall to those temptations and actually commit sin. To be fully human, is among other things, to commit sin at some point, and Jesus though Divine, was also fully human and so by definition had to make the kind of mistakes which prompted him to deny his ultimate goodness to the rich ruler.
Bearing this in mind, there are few examples of God the Father’s mercy as profound as the reality that it was actually a sin which led Jesus to commit the greatest act in the history of existence, his submission to and victory over the cross. In John 8:44, Jesus, while arguing with the pharisees, said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires.” Now Jesus had time and time again throughout the gospels warned his disciples against Judgment, saying to them, “Judge not lest ye be judged”, and yet in this exchange with the Pharisees, Jesus hypocritically judges them as being spawns of Satan. Similarly, Jesus in the the sermon on the mount advises us to “love our enemies, do good to them that hate us and pray for those that despitefully use us and persecute us.” But in this instance, even if Jesus’ intentions were good, his words were caustic, abrasive, judgmental, and accusatory. Or in other words, Jesus sinned in this encounter with the Pharisees. But herein is the beauty of God’s mercy. It was these incendiary words toward the Pharisees which helped to fuel their plan and desire to judge and murder him on the cross. And so, it could be said, that it was this sin of Jesus’ with the pharisees, that secured his greatest act of righteousness, the cross. Consider the mercy of God, to use sin as a conduit through which to eventually destroy its power. So the next time you want to writhe in guilt and shame over a sin that you have committed, or pine in unforgiveness or worldly sorrow over a sin that has been committed against you. Consider the power of God’s mercy to turn that sin into potentially the greatest act of grace in your life. And then repent in contrition, rather than humiliation. For God’s mercy and grace have no limits, and even his Son Jesus was in need of them!!!