Playing Mercy with Jesus
By: Tyler Kenney
When I was a kid I would sometimes play a game called “Mercy.” A friend and I would interlock hands and try to put each other into painful, inescapable positions. When one of us couldn’t handle any more we would cry “Mercy!” and the game would be over.
Stupid game, huh? But reading in Luke 18 recently I noticed a similar theme in Jesus’ parables and practice.
First, he tells the story of a widow who was seeking justice. Even though the judge was unrighteous, he heard the widow’s case because of her persistence. Jesus applies the parable, saying, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?”
Next, he talks about the Pharisee and the tax collector who both prayed in the temple. Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector went home justified, because he recognized his unworthiness and cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
The chapter ends with Jesus’ encounter with a blind beggar who would not quit calling out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Others were telling him to be quiet, but Jesus stopped and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” At the man’s request, Jesus restored his sight.
In each of these instances the Lord answered prayer—prayer of a certain type: a cry for mercy, desperate and persistent. And this is how he still deals with his people.
The Lord is pleased to help us in our distress, but he doesn’t always answer us right away. Sometimes it feels like we’re playing Mercy with him and he’s going to twist us until all that’s left is for us to beg for help.