This morning I read the account of Jesus passing by 2 blind men. When they hear that it’s Jesus walking by, they cry out “Have mercy on us!” The crowd tells them to shut up. But these blind men are so aware of their need and helplessness to overcome it that they ignore the crowd. So they cried out all the more “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
I was thinking about such a prayer in our world today. In modern Canadian culture, I can’t think of a more offensive prayer than “Lord have mercy on me.” The dominant thread through Canada today is radical independence from God. We live in a culture that affirms and legalizes the basic belief that “NO one can tell ME how to live my life.” We certainly don’t want God’s “interference.” We don’t want to be shackled to those old ways. I think one of the only tolerable prayers in Canadian society today might be, “God, (however I understand such a concept), bless me.”
But “Lord have mercy” implies that were not entirely successful in our pursuit of happiness apart from God. “Lord have mercy” suggests there are some things in our lives that we cannot overcome on our own – like blindness physical or spiritual. “Lord have mercy” also dares to suggest that we might not be able to come up with all the solutions on our own apart from God.
These blind men carried no such illusions. They were keenly aware of their need. They could not see and would not see without mercy from God. So Jesus responds “What do you want me to do for you?” They didn’t say, “Lord, grant us insight so we can figure this out on our own.” They stated their obvious need. “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
“And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.” Can you imagine how life changing that moment was in their lives? We don’t know how long they had experienced blindness. But they were “men.” They couldn’t work for they were sitting by the road likely begging. Suddenly, they can see because of the mercy of God.
Now I know the Christian walk is hard. It is challenging living to honor Christ as Lord when most people around live as their own lords. But when we cast a longing gaze on the radically independent life apart from God, we must remember His great mercy already shown to us. Mercy is receiving something you have not earned. We have not earned forgiveness, grace, right standing with God, adoption into God’s family, the Holy Spirit within us, new life in Christ, the promise of resurrection nor the constant presence of the Lord in our lives to guide us through every valley.
In fact, it cost the Father dearly to offer this kind of love to us – the sacrifice and death of His own Son. When we come to the end of ourselves (which if we’re honest, is quite often), we don’t have to try to cope by turning to something artificial or destructive). We have a God who loves to respond in mercy.
“And Jesus, IN PITY, touch their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him.”
“Lord God, we love to dabble in self-sufficiency and the pride of our own accomplishments or intelligence. Yet we desperately need you. Forgive us when we live like we don’t. Thank you for your mercy when we realize we do.”