Wonderful, Merciful Savior
Sermon #: 5
Ethel Rosenberg and Julius Rosenberg were United States citizens convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage during a time of war, and executed. Their charges were related to the passing of information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.
The trial of the Rosenbergs and Sobell began on March 6, 1951. The judge was Irving Kaufman. The prosecutor was Irving Saypol, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The attorney for the Rosenbergs was Emanuel Hirsch Bloch. The prosecution's primary witness, David Greenglass, stated that his sister Ethel typed notes containing U.S. nuclear secrets in the Rosenberg apartment in September 1945. He also testified that he turned over to Julius Rosenberg a sketch of the cross-section of an implosion-type atom bomb.
They were charged with and convicted of treason against the United States and sentenced to death. In his summation at the end of the long and bitter trial, Emanuel Bloch said animatedly, “Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice.”
Judge Kaufman replied calmly, “The court has given what you ask for—justice! What you really want is mercy. But that is something this court has no right to give.”
What does the Lord Require of You?
Jesus’ fifth beatitude, as do the previous two, flows from the last. Jesus calls us to be merciful. But what does it mean to be merciful? To find out, let’s look at how this word is used throughout scripture.
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So, we first find that mercy is a primary attribute of God.
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So mercy is here seen as remembering the poor.
Mercy is here seen as kindness.
Throughout scripture, we find that mercy is giving what one does not deserve. We see this in as God proclaims to Moses, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.”
In other words, God’s mercy is a free gift of God that depends upon his merciful will and not the goodness, nor worth of the recipient. The basic idea is to give help to the wretched and the miserable. Put simply mercy is undeserved favor.
So, Jesus calls us to be merciful reflecting God’s own call to mercy to Israel in .
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Thus, mercy is compassion in action. It is doing for others what they could never possible do for themselves. It is acting on behalf of another with no desire nor reason to expect anything in return. God’s requirement for his people, and Jesus’ is that we “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.”
What does it mean to do justice? Justice can be defined as the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause. Causes like the Human Sex Trafficking. Over 27 million people around the world are victims of sex trafficking. Every day, 3,287 people are sold into slavery, that’s 136 an hour for the average price of less than $100.00, over 2 million of them, children sold into sexual exploitation. Or the 53.1 million Sub-Saharan African orphans, or 68.9 million Asian orphans, or the 10.2 million Latin American orphans (roughly 5% of all children). Or what about the millions of widows, destitute by the death of their husbands.
As Christians we have always seen the need for justice, not because it saves, but because it is evidence of our obedience to Christ. Whether it be slavery, child work laws, abortion, civil rights, or women’s suffrage Christians have always led the charge for justice.
Why? Because justice reflects God’s own heart. Throughout the Old Testament, one of God’s greatest condemnations was over Israel’s refusal to seek justice.
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Israel,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
so that my holy name is profaned;
they lay themselves down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge,
and in the house of their God they drink
the wine of those who have been fined. (, ESV)
Second, God calls us to love kindness. What does this mean? I think it means that we see people through the lens of the rest of the beatitudes. We lovingly deal with and forgive. Thus to love kindness is to treat others as better than ourselves, and to seek to forgive and to love others.
Finally, we are called to walk humbly before our God. Every aspect of our call comes down to this command to walk in humility before God.