The Mercy of God

There is a strong theme of mercy woven throughout the birth narrative of Jesus. For example, in Mary’s song of praise known as The Magnificat, Mary said, “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50 ESV). Likewise, Zechariah prophesied as soon as his voice was returned to him. In that prophecy, he said, “. . . that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant” (vs. 71, 72).

God’s mercy is not only consistent throughout the birth narrative, but it’s present throughout the entire Bible. Jesus himself got annoyed with the Pharisees for accusing Jesus of hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. In response, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

Psalm 103, dubbed by one of my professors at college as “the gospel of the Old Testament,” says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). Over and over again the Bible points to the mercy of God and, very specifically, it points to Jesus as the vessel of God’s mercy. God’s mercy is shown through His son. Paul recounts his conversion to Timothy. In it he says, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Tim. 1:13). God is a God of mercy who expects his people to act mercifully.