From the Pulpit: God first chooses mercy over judgment

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimae&8217;us son of Timae&8217;us, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that is was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, &8220;Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!&8221; Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, &8220;Son of David, have mercy on me!&8221;

Jesus stood still and said, &8220;Call him here.&8221; And they called the blind man, saying to him, &8220;Take heart; get up, he is calling for you.&8221; So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, &8220;What do you want me to do for you?&8221;

The blind man said to him, &8220;My teacher let me see again,&8221; Jesus said to him, &8220;Go; your faith has made you well.&8221; Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.&8221;

&045; Mark 10

If the story of Bartimaeus tells us anything, it is the fact that it is not so important that we ourselves be able to see everything as clearly as we would like. What matters is that God hears us, even when we feel blind and lost.

It takes faith to cry out in our blindness and believe that we are heard. When we are at a loss, and we are wandering in the dark, we feel doubly helpless. All we have is our words &045; and the mercy of God who hears them when we cry out.

Faith may feel more satisfying to us when it is bold, confident, even self-assured and untroubled. But that is really more sight than faith.

Faith is always that movement anchored in humility above all else, that calls out for a love unseen and unlearned, a mercy unreachable.

Faith is always the recognition that we have come to the end of ourselves, the end of our reach and the answer is clearly, clearly out of our sight.

Faith is the daring courage to be humble, in face, to pin all out hopes on the love of God alone and face the future by stumbling as we can toward the voices that call for us to come.

At the end of it all, this is the Christian message, the proclamation that mercy triumphs over judgment, that love has suppressed law that righteousness comes not by our doing but by God&8217;s grace.

Mercy reveals us just as we are. We sense just how forgettable we all really are.

Yet mercy is precisely the intentional decision to take on hopeless cases, to love unlovable people, to embrace the rejected and to bring the unsightly into sight.

It is the way God goes about in Jesus Christ to seek the lost, cure the lame, forgive the sinner and have mercy on those who have completely and utterly lost their way with no hope for ever finding it again on their own.

Why Jesus should choose mercy over judgment is the eternal mystery of all time. Yet it is the hope that Bartimaeus&8217; cry for mercy bought into sharp focus.

The mercy of God is what Bartimaeus saw with his own two eyes. It&8217;s what we all long to see &045; but need to believe in even more

Robert Montgomery is the preaching minister of Cahaba Valley Church