2008-12-18 - A Thin Sheet of Mercy
Originally Published 2001-12-27
Luke 1:76-79 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, 79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace." (NAS)
If you have ever stood on a floor made of acrylic or another completely transparent material, you may know the feeling of standing in mid air waiting to fall. Your mind grapples with the fact that what you're standing on can only be seen by the reflections off the clear surface. One part of you is secure in the knowledge that the surface is indeed there. The other part of you would be happier if the surface could be seen.
Mercy is this way too. It is knowledge that we are not perfect and we will never be perfect. Mercy is not receiving the punishment we rightly deserve. It never quite feels safe and sturdy because sin is still there. As our awareness of the weight of our debt of sin grows, the more it seems inevitable that the crystal surface will shatter all at once and we will tumble downward with the shards. This is true where our righteousness is based on our performance and strength.
The transformation comes when grace is applied. Grace comes and reinforces the entire structure with an indestructible framework. Grace is the undeserved forgiveness of our unpayble, unrelenting debt. It is not simply that there is more strength to hold up the weight. There is much more security in this surface. It is nearly as clear with a slight tint of red. We can see it more clearly when the light shines on it. But more than that, the weight of sin is gone. The debt has been absolved removing the weight. This is true where our righteousness is based on God's performance and strength.
A long time ago even as a little child, Jesus drew to Himself shepherds who gave their adoration and Court Astrologers who gave symbols of royalty (gold), healing (myrrh) and His death (frankincense). All levels of society walk on the thin sheet of mercy. Jesus gave up the splendor of Heaven and put on human flesh so that we could know the reinforcement of His grace.
Lord Jesus - If someone reading this doesn't know your simple salvation and the assurance it brings, burden their heart until they will ask what they must do to know it. Help us to always be ready with an answer for the assurance that we have. Amen.
Grace & Peace,