(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)
Luke 1:76-79 “ And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied these words after his son’s circumcision, or dedication to the Lord. They remind us that the world into which the Messiah was birthed was a cold, dark, and desperate place. It was also the world of the Baptist. He had little choice in his destiny, but this did not seem to bother him. He is not heard from again until the baptism of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This too, did not seem to bother him. He would declare in John’s gospel, “He must increase and I decrease.” Oh for Christians today that are as humble as John the Baptist!
John understood mercy. Mercy is the kindness and goodness of the triune God to pitiful and desperate people. We are pitied by God. His mercy endures because the sin of unrepentant persons endures. Jesus Christ is the mercy of God in human form. It is hard to believe that a mere babe in the manger reflected the kindness of God. But He did and does still.
God’s mercy was not exhibited when the angels sinned. Lucifer did not know God’s mercy and surely Satan will never experience God’s pity. We alone of the creation are beholders of and partakers of His mercy! Is this not cause for rejoicing - is this not cause for praise – is this not cause for humility?
The Lord stooped to lie in an animal trough, to be wrapped in swaddling clothes, to have no permanent place of shelter. Although a carpenter he built himself no place of rest. He was intent on declaring His Father’s mercy to a world mired in the bleak mid-winter of our discontent. He had no urgent demand to demonstrate mercy. He was under no time constraint; no sinner ever deserved the slightest notion of redemption. His mercy is His to dispense and His to withhold. But, nonetheless God commended His love to us while we were yet in our sins.
This is what it means to be God. Absolute and utter freedom to make whatever choice glorifies Him most. And this He does without sin! I am humbled when I reflect upon my Father’s mercy. I am delighted when I revel in His grace. And I am comforted to know His love – a love that surpasses all human expectations!
Mercy is a reflection of humility. They are both graces given by the Holy Spirit to regenerate persons born again by the Spirit of God. As believers we are to express both humility and mercy to all, for this is what our Lord expects and commands. We cannot demonstrate the extent of God’s mercy, but we can demonstrate its intent. Without mercy we all would surely be consumed. Since our God has demonstrated his love, mercy, and grace to the world in Jesus the Christ, his children are to follow his lead.
Merry Christmas and my prayer is that 2012 will be the best year for growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ to God’s glory.
Sola Deo Gloria! Pastor Carey