Originally scheduled for May 24
It sometimes occurs to a new Christian to ask
why the Cross was necessary. After all, if God just wants to forgive
us, couldn’t he just send out an angel with a notice and a trumpet?
The answer to this has to do with the relationship between justice,
mercy and humility.
Mercy requires justice
It is in the very definition of mercy that
justice is required. Mercy is the mitigation of the penalty for
something that is justly deserved. Look at it this way: if you are a
judge in a criminal case, is it mercy to give an innocent defendant
only half the usual sentence? No, you should release the innocent
defendant. It is not mercy to give him punishment for something he
did not do. So if there is to be real mercy, there must first be
Sometimes justice simply isn’t done, and mercy
is an excuse for our laziness. This tends to produce a change in
what we think is right and wrong towards what we think is popular.
Opinion polls then replace the 10 Commandments.
Even worse, sometimes mercy becomes a habitual
reaction. Grace becomes cheap, and the sinner becomes a cynic about
it. But grace is not cheap; grace is extremely expensive. It cost
Christ his life. If there is to be mercy, there must be judgment
Mercy requires humility
May I first remind you of the incredible
humility of Jesus Christ? It started with the Incarnation where the
Son of God became a human being; a tremendous condescension. But not
just any human being; the one who was to be the perfect sacrifice on
the Cross. It was an incredibly merciful thing to do to secure our
forgiveness and return to God’s family. In that, there is a
temptation to pious pride. Pious pride sees the forgiven as so much
scum; humility sees the forgiven as “one of us.”
More than that, if mercy is to be accepted it
must be given with humility. If God’s mercy were always delivered
with a thunderous judgmental look, how many of us would apply? By
doing it the way Christ did he avoids this judgmental-ism. It is his
desire that all should be saved, not that many should be rejected
because they would not ask for mercy from the stern, thunderous God.
Christ gave us mercy, mercifully.
Body and blood
God spent several thousand years dealing with
the people of the Old Testament. One of the consistent lessons is
that sin requires atonement if God is to be merciful. More than
that, if there is to be atonement for all sins once and for all, it
must be a perfect atonement. A perfect atonement means a perfect
sacrifice, and the only example of that is Christ on the Cross. As
you partake this morning, remember that you are handling the body
and blood of Christ given for you as an atoning sacrifice. May I
suggest, therefore, that you examine how will you imitate your Lord
in giving mercy, doing justice and walking in humility.