Mercy and Unmercy
Read: MATTHEW 18:21-35
Today’s passage takes in what is called the parable of the unmerciful (or unforgiving) servant. It’s a pretty stark story. One can hardly believe a person could act like this. Now, it is true that Jesus spoke in hyperbole from time to time. Is he doing that here? Not likely. Most of us can quickly perceive that mercy and unmercy truly exist side by side in our culture. Unmercy. Spell check says it’s not a word. We disagree.
In perhaps the most “take it for what it says” of all of Jesus’s beatitudes, we’re told, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” It is one of the most fundamental teachings of the Christ life, of our apprenticeship to Jesus. And if mercy is characteristic of life in God, then unmercy can only be characteristic of life in hell.
But one thing is clear from the parable. When God shows mercy, he doesn’t bring it on with tweezers, an eyedropper, or a teaspoon.
“When I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me” (“Let Us Break Bread Together,” Covenant Hymnal, #572). AMEN.