Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua
In my last post, we began looked at the how happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In this post, we will explore the concept of showing mercy. The purpose of our study is to sit at the feet of Yeshua and learn directly from Him what it means to be His talmid.
“How blessed are those who show mercy! For they will be shown mercy.” ~ Matthew 5:8
Verse 7 teaches us about forgiving those who fail us. It says, “I really want to treat others the way I want them to treat me.” Once again, Yeshua takes this lesson from King David. Psalm 18:25 says, “With the merciful, you are merciful; with a man who is sincere, you are sincere.” Psalm 86:5 goes on to say, “Adonai, you are kind and forgiving, full of grace toward all who call on you.” Have you noticed that Yeshua is teaching these vital characteristics right out of the Tanakh? Clearly, He did not come to abolish the Old, but to resurrect it without man’s appendages added on.
God is merciful (Psalms 103:8,11). God promises mercy adequate enough to meet any tragedy.
Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Because we have received the mercy of God through repentance, we can be merciful. If we aren’t merciful, we haven’t actually received God’s mercy. Those who have received forgiveness show forgiveness.
The Greek word for “mercy” has its root in the Hebrew word meaning “to get inside someone else’s skin.” This means that you can totally identify with what he’s seeing, thinking, and feeling (Ezekiel 3:15). God came into the skin of man through Yeshua to be able to identify with us. Sympathy is to suffer together or to experience together the pains and sufferings of others (Luke 10:30-37). The Gospel places the emphasis on what we are, not on what we are doing (Ephesians 1-4). If we’re what God wants us to be, we’ll do what God wants us to do (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Psalm 23 concludes with this familiar line: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” That’s God’s way of saying that life will often be filled with goodness, but that even when God’s goodness cannot be seen, His mercy can be experienced! In the midst of tears, heartbreak, enormous loss, and terrible sorrow, suddenly a sweet mood, like a gentle kiss, will touch your wounded heart. That experience is called mercy. It comes as an expression of God’s love.
The question is: Which comes first? Do we need to be merciful before God will be merciful to us? Or does God need to be merciful to us before we can be merciful to others? It is God’s promise that if we treat people mercifully, God will be merciful to us.
The Brit Hadashah is insistent that to be forgiven we must be forgiving. James says, “For judgment will be without mercy toward one who doesn’t show mercy” ~ James 2:13. Yeshua finishes the story of the unforgiving debtor with the warning: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat you, unless you each forgive your brother from your hearts” ~ Matthew18:35.
The Disciple’s Prayer is followed by the two verses which explain and underline the petition, “Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us. For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.” (Matthew 6:12,14,15). It is the consistent teaching of the Brit Hadashah that indeed only the merciful shall receive mercy.
The Hebrew word for ‘mercy’ is chesed; yet again, it is really an untranslatable word. It does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for someone ill trouble. As I indicated earlier, chesed means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.
Clearly this is much more than an emotional wave of pity; clearly this demands a quite deliberate effort of the mind and of the will. It denotes a sympathy, which is not given, as it were, from outside, but which comes from a deliberate identification with the other person, until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as he feels them. This is sympathy in the literal sense of the word. Sympathy means experiencing things together with the other person, literally going through what he is going through.
If we did make this deliberate attempt, and if we did achieve this identification with the other person, it would obviously make a very great difference.
In the last analysis, is this not what God did in Yeshua? In Yeshua, in the most literal sense, God got inside the skin of men. He came as a man; he came seeing things with men’s eyes, feeling things with men’s feelings, and thinking things with men’s minds. God knows what life is like, because God came right inside life.
It is only those who show this mercy who will receive it. This is true on the human side, for it is the great truth of life that in other people we see the reflection of ourselves. If we are detached and disinterested in them, they will be detached and disinterested from us. If they see that we care, their hearts will respond in caring.
This Beatitude teaches a power principle that appears over and over in the Bible, stated different ways:
- “If you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.” (Matthew 6:15)
- “The measure with which you measure out will be used to measure you.” (Matthew 7:2)
- “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1)
- “A person reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)
Give a little, you get a little back. Give a lot, you get a lot back. This is the law of proportionate return that Yeshua is teaching in these verses and in this Beatitude. If you are critical, you can expect people to criticize you. If you gossip about people, you can be sure these same people are going to gossip about you. It is a law of life as real and unavoidable as the physical laws that control our universe.
Here is a fundamental rule of life: If you want people to treat you nicely, treat them nicely. For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.
The Beatitudes are like a beacon light that calls us to self-examination. If we’re merciful, then others will be merciful to us (Luke 6:38; 1 Corinthians 11:28,31). There is another verse that says it another way, “Bear one another’s burdens – in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds” ~ Galatians 6:2.
It is impossible to have thoughts of resentment and jealousy, anger and hate or ill will – and be happy at the same time. If you want to change your world, start by changing yourself.
If you want to treat people mercifully, you have to begin by treating yourself mercifully. Accept yourself by knowing the Yeshua accepts you just as you are!
So the translation of the fifth beatitude might read:
“O how blessed is the man who gets right inside other people, until he can see with their eyes, think with their thoughts, feel with their feelings, for he who does that will find others do the same for him, and will know that that is what God through Yeshua has done!”
In my next post, we will look at how happy are those who are pure in heart.