He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 21: Lord, Have Mercy!
As Jesus was departing Jericho a few days later for his final walk up the barren heights to the city of Jerusalem, another man wanted his help. This man was a blind beggar sitting by the side of the road. He heard a great commotion around him, he wanted to know what it was. Someone told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing through on his way to Jerusalem for the feast.
Bartimaeus had already heard enough about this teacher from Galilee to know that he had the power to help him. He began to cry out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
People nearby were embarrassed by his shouts and sternly told him to keep quiet. He was only a beggar after all, why would Jesus care about him? But that only made Bartimaeus cry even louder and above all the other noise Jesus heard him. He had Bartimaeus brought to him and he made his request. "I want to regain my sight."
Notice that he did not ask what he needed to do to see again. He did not barter based on any qualification he might have to make him worthy. He simply put all of his confidence in the mercy of the man from God.
And that was enough.
Jesus didn't ask him to sell all he had. Jesus healed him and noted that Bartimaeus' simple focus was all that was needed. "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Not only did he receive healing, but salvation as well. Jesus did not love the beggar more than the businessman, nor did he give to one and not the other. For he graciously gave to both of them. It's just that one recognized it and one did not and the difference between the two contains all we need to know to find life in God.
Jesus didn't want the disciples to miss that point. Even before he had left on this journey he had told them a parable that these encounters had illustrated perfectly. He told of a Pharisee and a tax collector entering the temple. The Pharisee delighted in his righteousness-how he was more committed than anyone else he knew. He even puffed himself up at the expense of the tax collector praying nearby, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people, even like this tax collector."
That's what living by our own works produces. Since we'll never be good enough on our own we will seek to justify ourselves by being better than most other believers around us. To create that facade we have to focus on their weaknesses and hold them in contempt. Any time we set ourselves above others, we only demonstrate how little we understand God's mercy.
The tax-collector on the other hand was not even willing to look up to heaven, but beat his chest praying, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" Then Jesus asked which one went home justified? The answer was obvious, as obvious as Jesus' encounter with the businessman and the beggar.
When you are tempted to stake your relationship with God on your own goodness or your sacrifice, don't even try. Picture the bar so high that you'll never find a way to clear it. Approach God on the basis of your own efforts and you will always go away disappointed and disillusioned. But that is not bad news.
What it means is that God has fulfilled in himself everything he would ever require of us. Abandoning our own attempts to establish our own worthiness is central to the power of the gospel. Learn that and a door stands before you that will lead you to the very heart of a loving Father. This is the way to know that he delights over you with joy, and is able to transform you into the fullness of his glory.
He absolutely, completely loves you. Discovering how much will revolutionize your relationship to him and your life in this world.
But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. -Matthew 9:13