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The Tender Mercy of God

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Ier Jonathan.

TEXT: Lamentations 3:22
Luke 1:39-80

The prelude to Jesus’ coming is worth spending a little more time on. Because it fulfills so many prophecies. And because it is the greatest thing to have ever happened to mankind. GOD CAME DOWN TO EARTH. Take a moment and allow that to sink in. GOD. CAME. DOWN. TO. EARTH.

Apart from the creation of the world and mankind, this is the biggest deal. EVER. Even the baby in Elizabeth’s womb recognized the voice of the mother of the Lord Jesus when Mary hurried to visit her relative, Elizabeth (see Luke 1:39-45). Elizabeth the older woman asked the younger woman, “Why am I so honoured that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.”

Mary responded in song – joyful that she had been chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. From then on, she sang, all generations would call her blessed. And indeed. Everywhere the story is told, 2000 years on, Mary is called blessed. And after praising God for His excellent mercy, strength, generosity and justice, she concludes with the remembrance of the promise God made to Abraham 2000 years prior.

God keeps His word. Elizabeth and Zechariah saw this as their son, John was born about 3 months after Mary’s visit. And with this birth, the prophecies given to Zechariah by Gabriel, the angel, began to be fulfilled. She had a son, (see Luke 1:57), everyone rejoiced with her (as Gabriel had prophesied in Luke 1:14)– what a sight that must have been. We are told that when their neighbours saw that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. God had indeed been merciful to Zechariah and Elizabeth.

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The blessings we receive are God’s mercy to us. Answered prayers are God’s mercy to us. Miracles and impossible situations made possible are God’s mercy to us. It is important to note that though Elizabeth and Zechariah were considered righteous in God’s sight, they did not feel entitled to God’s blessings and did not think that God owed them a child. They instead saw this gift of a son as God’s mercy to them. What a far cry this is from how many of us tend to approach God today. We believe He owes us. Because we prayed all night or fasted for a long time or because we paid a tithe or sowed a seed. Sometimes, when we pray, we are even rude to God. We demand. We declare. We claim. And not in humility. In pride. With a sense of entitlement. We talk to God in a manner that we would not dare talk to our human bosses or leaders. Zechariah and Elizabeth who had been directly blessed by God, who were seen as righteous in God’s eyes, who were chosen by God to be John’s parents considered the gift of John as ‘God being very merciful to them.’

Zechariah was so moved and filled with the Holy Spirit that all he could do was praise God for His coming, for his redemption, for fulfilling His promise given through prophets from long ago concluding that God had sent a mighty Saviour: “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (see Luke 1:78-79)

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Zechariah describes the impossible condition of man – each of us individually, living in a sin-darkened world with death shadowing our every day. In Nigeria, powerful, ungodly men and women have perfected corruption and violence and they kidnap, rape, steal and maim. Terrorists are on the rampage. Our government keeps failing in its duty to the people. These are enough to take our peace away but the morning light has come – to light our sin-darkened paths and to guide us to the path of peace – made possible by a merciful God who decided to save His people. And a day of reckoning will come. For now, we hold to His promises and keep pleading His mercies. But for them, we would be utterly consumed.

Prayer:

Holy Father,
We thank You for Your great mercy to us. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to come and save us from sin and death. Please forgive us for the times we have been rude or had an entitlement mentality towards You. Forgive us for the times we have treated You as though You owe us. It is the other way round. We owe You. And You have made a way for us by paying that debt. Please be merciful unto us and enable us re-learn You and Your person. Teach us Your ways and guide us along paths of peace. Deliver us from darkness and evil and free us from eternal death according to Your great mercy. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.

  • Ier Jonathan-Ichaver is a Bible student, striving Jesus follower and social worker.

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