On July 17, 2015, a young man entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina and joined a Bible Study group. The ten people in the room welcomed the young man, even though his presence was unusual. They offered him a Bible and proceeded with their study. At the end they sang a hymn and then had a closing prayer. At that point the man pulled out a gun and shot nine of the ten parishioners in the room, leaving one alive to tell the world what he had done.
SHOWING COMPASSION TO A MURDERER
Out of that horrific act, there was a glimpse of the presence of Jesus in the courtroom. At the arraignment, several of the children of those murdered, were able to tell the shooter, “I forgive you; I condemn what you’ve done, but I forgive you.” Some other family members, neighbors, and certainly the media, were bewildered by what was happening. How could anybody show that much compassion for an individual that murdered your mother, your grandmother, or your friend? The answer comes from the One who gives mercy to an undeserving people. His name is Jesus!
MERCY TO THOSE WHO DIDN’T LOVE HIM
In Matthew 15:29-39 we see Jesus healing many of the people who followed him. He extended His mercy and made them well. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. Once again, Jesus extended His mercy to individuals who probably had no love for him, beyond being glad He healed their broken bodies.
MERCY AS GOD’S CHARACTER
As illustrated by Jesus, showing mercy is part of God’s character. We cannot show mercy to people begrudgingly or with ulterior motives if we are Christ followers. God displayed mercy to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In the same manner, Jesus says in Luke 6:36, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO FORGIVE?
Having enough compassion in your heart to reach out to the sick is one thing, but to forgive a killer, someone who has taken away a part of your family, is that possible? Paul says in I Timothy 1:15-16, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst, but for that very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.
THE MERCY THAT DISPLAYS JESUS
God’s mercy is something which we must live out in our own lives to show what God is like. Are you merciful to just the nice people? The people who deserve it? Or do you show mercy to others, just as God has shown mercy to you? God’s mercy is a cup of cold water in our dry and desperate times. The character of Christ was demonstrated by those individuals in the courtroom towards the man who had pulled out a gun and shot nine of the ten parishioners in that Bible Study Group. That type of mercy displayed to the world Who Jesus Christ is. How is God asking you to display this kind of mercy in your own life to others? Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.