BEATITUDES SERIES: Does Mercy Replace Lex Talionis?
The following words are based in the persuasion that…
… there is a God
… He is holy
… His Nature is standard to what is called ‘good’
You have heard “eye for and eye tooth for a tooth” is stated to be justice in the Bible (Exodus 21, Leviticus 24, Deuteronomy 19). Yet, more importantly because we all fall short of God’s moral law, we are told mercy overcomes judgement.
But not simply mercy in and of itself.
Mercy it seems to me has a two-fold effect. One on hand, there is a balancing of judgement as to make sure punishment is not excessive. On the other, it is a means of teaching and or restoring toward character reflective of the standard of a good and holy God.
In the New Testament (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus tells a parable about a merciless debtor. In His parable, overcomers apply the mercy they receive. They follow the means of their gift. We see in His parable that the giving of self is the backbone of provision and when done in the Spirit… He that brings forth life.
Judgement is overcome by mercy, but only for those who receive mercy themselves and they extend its power in the world. Otherwise, Biblical justice takes its course and all that stands in the way of God’s life-giving provision will come to destruction.
Overcomers are people of mercy. They actively lift souls out of depth that they might learn to live by the Spirit; not just under the direction of a task master.
Jesus Christ makes the way by condemning sin in His flesh on the cross. He Himself is the place of mercy and the source of its reality. Still, His mercy must be first received and then applied. We overcome only when we apply the mercy, not simply receive it.
Where there is mercy there is balance on the scales of judgement and the aim to redeem. Mercy overcomes in leading a relationship past judgement to redemption in the pattern that Jesus set forth on the cross. For us, mercy is given, and mercy is received together for us to overcome. One without the other only rises… at best to the level of justice… a good thing, but not the superior redemptive result of reflecting our merciful God.
Life that overcomes shares in the giving cycle of life.
For mercy comes from mercy, as life comes from life.