Matthew writes: “‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.’ From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (4:15-17).
Early in His ministry, the word of Jesus quickly spread even beyond Israel. Multitudes followed Jesus, sitting at His feet, and He taught them doctrine unique to their ears, differing from the rabbis, scribes and wise men of Israel. He did not teach the Law of Moses. He did not clarify it. He imparted the teachings of the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus sat down to teach the multitudes in Matthew 5-7, His oration left the people astonished. At the beginning of His discourse, He stated the following: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (5:7-8). Proclaiming how men could do well for themselves, Jesus spoke of mercy and purity. He opened the door to things not seen by men, a peek into how to ultimately dwell in the presence of God. Indeed, these two traits are living sermons seen in Jesus, the Word of God and the Christian.
The Mercy and Purity of Jesus
The apostle John writes these words of Jesus: “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (8:29). The Christ declares that His actions stand as testament that the Father is always with Him. What a man Jesus was! He did not covet His position as Deity, but chose to come as a savior to this world of sin (Phil. 2:6). How the world needs Jesus!
Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (59:2). Every person walking this earth from the beginning to end — except Jesus — commits sin (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8). So when Jesus came to this earth, He found a people in need of spiritual mercy. They were unclean, unhealthy, impure, weighed down with the filth of sin and therefore separated from the God who created them. Jesus arrived as a great spiritual purifier for mankind, teaching how to return to God (Mark 2:17). Yet this is not why the multitudes of Matthew 5-7 followed Jesus. They were seeking the mercy of His miraculous healing. Jesus was not just spiritually merciful (Matt. 4:23-24). He showed compassion in healing all who came to Him (Matt. 9:35-36). His mercy also caused Him to feed the hungry who followed Him for days on end (Matt. 15:32-38). He cared about the physical well-being of others and for good reason. Jesus came to this earth, living in the flesh as a man. He subjected Himself to the intentional and unintentional consequences of the actions of mankind. He breathed the same air we do under the same sun. He experienced temptation and hardship just the same as mankind has since the beginning of time. He endured what the struggle of mankind feels like. Thus, Jesus shows mercy spiritually and physically for our plight (Heb. 2:17-18).
However, though merciful, Jesus also needed to be pure. Purity is demonstrated when an individual lives a life of serving God rather than the world. Jesus led a life free from the sins that whirled around Him in the lives of mankind. He rejected temptation (Matt. 4). He championed thinking on the good things of life. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten…” (1 Pet. 2:22-23). Peter describes the blood of Christ as that of a lamb without spot (1 Pet. 1:19). It was only in this way that He would fulfill the Law of Moses and be acceptable as a sacrifice for mankind. Though He was tempted as us, He did not sin (Heb. 4:15).
In showing mercy to us, Jesus obtained the mercy of the Father who raised Him up from the grave. By living a life of purity, Jesus “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). The life He presented to others in Matthew 5-7 turned out to be a living illustration on how things can go well for one’s life.
The Mercy and Purity of the Word of God
The Word of God which Jesus taught was only that which the Father gave Him (John 12:49-50). Jesus shared a parable in Matthew 18:22-35 which told of a servant forgiven a huge sum by his master. Sadly, the servant goes away and refuses to show the same mercy to another owing a small debt. In fact, he causes the man to be thrown in prison over the sum. When the master hears of the actions of the unmerciful servant, the servant is delivered over to be punished. God’s Word declares the same will be done by the Heavenly Father to those not showing mercy. The parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 18 is the other side of “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The Word of God displays mercy by not only telling us how to do well, but how to avoid punishment (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Note how the psalmist declares the purity of the way of God! He wrote:
“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6).
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8).
Peter refers to the Word of God when he tells Christians to long for the “pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). As God Himself is pure, so goes His Word. God is light and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5). This is why purity at its simplest and most recognizable form is God. Many times in Scripture God declared this by declaring that He is holy. Now consider John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John declares Christ as that Word (1:14). We know God to be merciful and pure. We know Christ to be merciful and pure. The Word of God thus demonstrates the traits of mercy and purity as taught by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.
The Mercy and Purity of the Christian
As Jesus spoke to the multitudes, He offered teaching which established what a citizen of the kingdom of God looked like. The citizen of the kingdom of God replicates Jesus in mercy and purity (Eph. 5:25-27). The citizen of the kingdom of God also replicates the Word of God in mercy and purity because the Christian sees salvation through the implanted, merciful, and pure Word (James 1:21). Jesus commanded mankind to be merciful when He shared the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10). The apostle Paul preached to the Christians of Colossae telling them of mercy and the moral perfection which is purity (Col. 3:12-14). Christianity represents the light of God. In action, true Christianity shows faith in our unrealized hope, the coming of Christ and entrance into His kingdom. That such a belief mandates traits of mercy and purity becomes clear when Paul speaks of the selfishness and immorality which will keep us out of the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
While speaking to His disciples as they were concerned about rank in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus stated, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). A young child yet unstained by the world wants to please. He or she will share their cookies and toys and freely give their love. They want to do anything they can do to help when someone hurts. Children demonstrate mercy and purity every day, just like Christ. These traits need to become ours. The Father longs for this. Christ lived it. The apostles taught it. The world can read this in the Word of God which was given for their guidance and perfection.
Jesus, the great Healer of mankind, looked out at the multitudes which constantly surrounded Him and shared the words of the Father which provide eternal life. He did so knowing they were all condemned to die in sin. He did so knowing they would eventually beat Him, spit on Him, reject Him and crucify Him. His greatest act of mercy and purity took place upon that cross as the pure sacrificial lamb of God. Showing mercy, He pleaded, “Father, forgive them…” (Lk. 23:34).
Travis has been a minister in the Lord’s church for over 15 years. He is the creator of www.churchofchristarticles.com.