God’s mercy is evident throughout the Scriptures, starting immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve when He set in motion His plan for humanity’s redemption. Genesis 3:15 holds the first prophecy about the Messiah and what he would accomplish for our salvation. The first time the word “merciful” occurs in the Bible is when Yahweh reveals His glory to Moses.
Exodus 34:6. Yahweh passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
The first characteristic that Yahweh revealed was His mercy. Some translations instead of the word “merciful” used “compassionate.” The two words are often used interchangeably.
When the insincere lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor,” he responded with a parable that addressed the lawyer’s hardheartedness. It is about a traveler who is stripped of his belongings, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. A priest followed by a Levite avoid getting involved. Finally, a Samaritan came upon him; “and when he saw him, he felt compassion and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’”
Jesus then asked the lawyer; “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Again, we see that mercy and compassion are used interchangeably. With this parable, we also see the recipient of mercy is someone in a dire situation and unable to help himself.
When pregnant Mary prophesied with pregnant Elizabeth, she said, “and his mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear him.” She quoted Psalm 103:17 that says, “But the lovingkindness of Yahweh is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.” The Greek NT translated the OT Hebrew “lovingkindness” as “mercy.” So, mercy also includes lovingkindness. God’s mercy indeed includes both compassion
Ephesians offers another important aspect of mercy.
Ephesians 2:1-5. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
As we noted with the parable about the good Samaritan, the recipient of mercy is undeserving and unable to help himself. God shows mercy to those dead in trespasses and sins. He gives us everything, and we deserve nothing. With the compilation of information thus far presented, we are ready to explore the connection between healing and mercy.
Matthew 9:27-31. As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened…
Based upon the information provided in the OT, the phrase “son of David” refers to the Messiah. The two blind men believed Jesus was the Messiah. Prophecy in the OT also reveals that the Messiah would have mercy on the afflicted and heal them. For example, the prophecy in Isaiah 49 focuses on Yahweh’s servant, the Messiah and what he will do when he comes. Note the following verses:
Isaiah 49:10. “They will not hunger or thirst, nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; for He who has compassion [mercy] on them will lead them and will guide them to springs of water.
Isaiah 49:13. Shout for joy, O heavens! and rejoice, O earth! break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For Yahweh has comforted His people and will have compassion [mercy] on His afflicted.
Isaiah 49:15. “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion [mercy] on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
In the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 to explain his ministry:
Luke 4:18-19. “the spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of Yahweh.”
Apparently, people in Jesus’ day were expecting the Messiah, the son of David to come with mercy to heal. The two blind men were among many. Matthew 15 records the Canaanite woman with the daughter who was “cruelly demon-possessed.” She came to Jesus and said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, son of David.” After she persisted, Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” Her daughter was healed at once.
After the Mount of Transfiguration, a man with a demonized son came to him saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill.” This father understood the connection between mercy and healing. Jesus had mercy and healed the boy. Two more blind men received mercy and healing.
Matthew 20:30-34. The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.
The four Gospels have many other incidents of afflicted people asking for mercy and receiving healing or deliverance from demons. The important point to embrace is all healing is due to God’s mercy. No one earns it or deserves it. Healing is not a reward for doing good or being holy. Look at Ephesians 2:1-5 again. What is required to receive redemption and salvation? Are you saved because you are a good boy or girl? No. In the same way with healing and deliverance, the only requirement is faith. Jesus healed thousands of people and never demanded sinlessness or any requirement other than faith. Just as God wants all people to be saved, so He wants all to be healed. He is a merciful, compassionate, loving, kind God and Father. Jesus always did God’s will which is why he was merciful to all who came to him. Today, Jesus is our merciful and faithful high priest