Sermon – The Beatitudes: No Mercy (Matthew 5:1 – 5:12) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 5 of 9

The Beatitudes: No Mercy

Pete Woodcock, Matthew 5:1 - 5:12, 14 February 2021

Continuing our series in the Beatitudes, Pete preaches on "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". We see how people whom show mercy have understood the mercy God has shown them.

Matthew 5:1 - 5:12

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

All right. Please do take a seat and open up your Bibles to Matthew 5. I'm going to have our reading That's 1 of 2 readings actually. I'm going to start with Matthew 5, first of all. And let me just pray for Lord's help before we open up his word.

Finally, we thank you that this is your word and we thank you that Jesus is the word. And we pray, please, as he speaks now, through these scriptures that we have, you would open our ears and soften our hearts would you plough our hearts lord ready to receive the word? And would this be an encouragement to us? Would it be a challenge to us? And would it feed us, please, we pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Okay. Matthew 5, I'm going to start from verse 1. Now when Jesus saw the crowds, went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them. He said, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. And our next reading is going to be Luke 10 from verse 25.

Parable of the good Samaritan. On 1 occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus, teacher, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What is written in the law he replied? How do you read it? He answered, love the lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

You have answered correctly Jesus replied, do this, and you will live. But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, and who is my neighbor? In reply, Jesus said, A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road.

And when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So to a levite when he came to the place, and saw him passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan as he traveled came where the man was, and when he saw him he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out 2 Denari and gave them to the innkeeper.

Look after him, he said. And when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these 3 do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers. The expert in the law replied, the 1 who had mercy on him. Jesus told him go and do likewise.

Pete? Well, just to get our juices going and our thinking going on the whole idea of mercy and so forth, I thought I'd just show you a little excerpt from 1 of the episodes from a series on the TV called Black Mirror. And the writer of Black Mirror really is often understands our culture and some rights are very disturbing. For disturbing episodes. This one's called nosedive, and I'll read some of the introduction before I just show this little clip.

It says the episode is set in a world where people can rate each other from 1 to 5 stars for every interaction they have. Which can impact their socioeconomic status. Lacey is a young woman overly obsessed with her ratings. So we're just gonna this is towards the beginning, we're just gonna see a little clip here to to get us thinking. Worth watching.

We live in a world that judges and scores and rates you. All the time. A world that likes and unlocks you all the time. A world that will scrawl past you, for someone a bit more attractive, a world that encourages you to rate everything and every experience from a cup of coffee to the toilets on the motorway service station. A world that can cancel you, if it doesn't like what you're you're saying.

Cancel you with a click and get likes for canceling you. That's the world we're in. Now that's what we see in in that clip, definitely. There's a world where the girl is so desperate to get 5 star rated that she she can't enjoy a coffee or can't not enjoy a coffee without thinking about what it will look like on a perfect photo to get ratings. And she's living in a world where we're just sort of on show to try to show everything perfect, even the mouth bite on her biscuit, even though the biscuits disgusting, and the coffee is disgusting.

She wants to sort of give the picture of perfection. So her ratings go up. So it's a world that is about merit and works and what you do and perfection and how you look. What's your greatest need in that world? What's your greatest need?

Well, if you're a young girl, you need to make sure that your profile pictures gone through Instagram filters or photoshop filters, because it's cruel out there. If you're not looking right, you'll get marked down. There's no mercy out there for a young girl and her looks. And if you want to get higher ratings, then it seems that you've got to do this virtual signaling. And be outraged at someone's comment.

And even better if you cancel someone, and show that you've canceled someone. You're gonna get some 5 stars and well done and we're with you and all of that sort of stuff. So show no mercy, and you'll earn lots of merit. That's the that's the world that we're in. Now, tonight, we're thinking about mercy.

We've been following through this to the sermon on the mount that Jesus gives, 1 of his great sermons. And he gives these things which are often called beatitudes. They're attitudes that should be in us. If we're Christians. And we're an in verse 7, where it says blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.

And I I want to show you that you need mercy more than anything else in the world. More than merit, you need mercy. More than things that you can do, you need mercy. More than 5 stars you need mercy. More than good looks.

You need mercy. More than your talent, you need mercy. More than thousands and thousands of likes, you need mercy more than hundreds of thousands of views, you need mercy. If you're to survive in this world, or in the next world, you need mercy. You need mercy.

And you need mercy because you're a human. And why? Because as a human, you fail. And if you fail, you're going to need mercy. You need mercy because you're a human.

Why? Because as a human you will make mistakes. And if you make mistakes in this world, you're going to need mercy. Not merits and credits and stars at rating. You need mercy because you're not perfect.

You need mercy because you'll struggle. You'll say the wrong thing. You'll do the wrong thing. You'll tire. You'll get sick.

You'll look ill. You'll be frail. You'll get things wrong. You'll misunderstand certain things. You'll get lonely and needy and you'll be hurt and you'll be frightened and you'll cry and your sin.

So for the very fact that you're a human in this world, the biggest thing you need is mercy, not ratings. You don't need ratings, you need mercy. You don't need 5 stars, you need mercy. And if you're to be happy in a world like this, you need mercy. According to Jesus, if you're gonna be happy, you have to be merciful.

True happiness comes from not only receiving mercy but giving mercy. Look what he says in verse 7, this be attitude. Bless are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Now, we've seen that the word blessed can mean happy or contented or or more it's more than happy, it's complete. The actual Greek word that is used is macarius.

And the female version of that Greek word was used of the island of Cyprus. And they said that a man could live on Cyprus and never go beyond its shores and have everything, completeness, everything that a man needs, blessedness. You don't need anything, no food, no that everything was there on Cyprus, macarius, blessed, It's you're in the state of blessedness. You could go back to the God of Eden, where God had created even eden. And he put men a man and a woman there, and he blessed the seventh day.

It's a blessed state. It's what we're meant to be. We're we're completed here. So how are we going to be happy in this world? How are we going to be blessed by mercy?

But here's my first point then, what does mercy mean? Well, mercy is thinking about others and not yourself. Rating is thinking of yourself and not others. Here's some definitions. Mercy equals a sense of pity plus a desire to relieve the suffering.

In another person. Mercy means pity plus action. It's only it only it it not only stirs the heart, but it it moves it moves the hand. So, mercy is heart sort of understanding of someone's miserable position, and a hand that moves to help them out. 1 old puritan called Thomas Watson puts it this way.

Mercy is a melting disposition whereby we lay to heart the miseries of others and already on all occasions to be instrumental for their good. That's what mercy is. It's instrumental for the good of others. Mercy is what we saw in in the parable of the good Samaritan. That Ben read for us in in Luke chapter 10.

It's that wonderful story of mercy that Jesus is giving us. I mean, there's a big difference between the religious people, very religious. They were conservative religious people. The the priest and the levite. There's a big difference between them and the good samaritan that has mercy to the bloke who's beaten up.

So you got this bloke beaten up. You got these 3 other characters. And I can imagine if that was a modern telling of that story that that the priest and the Levi would get out get out their phones. And take a photo of the beaten up man. And share hashtag how upsetting.

Hashtag me so sad. It's all about me, isn't it? And then they would get loads of comments. Wouldn't they if they put that up? Oh, so sorry to see that.

What a terrible start for the day that you've had. And you get liked and clicked and your ratings would go up. Oh 0, what is up with people? Hashtag, sick world. Hashtag me sad too.

Yeah? The Samaritan, though, is the 1 who's merciful. So according to this beatitude is the 1 who's blessed. The Samaritan is the 1 who's blessed. The Samaritan is the 1 who found happiness, blessedness, completeness, not by trying to get ratings or merit.

But by giving himself away. That's how happiness comes. Not by thinking of himself at all. But by thinking of others, that's mercy, by having a melting disposition, by having a sense of pity and desire and a hand to try to relieve suffering. He put himself in the way of the needs of others, and that's where he found himself, blessedness.

Blessness. He's blessed because he is acting like the God that made him to be an image of God. That's why he's blessed. He loses himself in the service of another and he finds himself. How he was created to be.

In the image of God. By giving himself away, he finds completeness. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that so different to the world that we're in? In Matthew chapter 9, Jesus is being marked down by the religious leaders in their sort of rating system that they had.

And he's being marked down, he's been given no stars whatsoever because he's not woke. And he's not woke because he's not coming up to their system of cancelling a really bad person, Levi. I mean, what Jesus should have done I mean, he's a tax collector. He's the wicked 1. You know, put him on the internet today and everybody would wanna cancel him.

He was, you know, he was not a woke man. Yeah? And so Jesus is talking to him and having food with him. And so they're knocking him down, but listen to what Jesus says right at the end. It should come up.

He says, at the end of this encounter to the to the religious leaders, but go and learn what this means, and then he quotes the bible. That they were purporting to know. I desire mercy's talking this is God talking. I God desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I've not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

I desire mercy, says, God, not sacrifice. Now you go back to the story of the good samaritan, and the priest of the Levi will be earning 5 stars in their rating because they got to the temple sacrifices on time. But it's the Samaritan that's showing mercy. And therefore fulfilling his Godlike purpose. God says, I desire mercy not sacrifice.

And that leads me to my second point then. God is the God of mercy. God is the God of mercy. In the Hebrew language, there's there's a word called Chesed and it's used 250 times of God and it means mercy or sometimes translated loving kindness. 250 times, that word is used of God.

Loving kindness, mercy of God. Here's this lovely set 1 of them, you know, 1 of the verses in the bible. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and I love this word, Plenteous. You have to go to the old version for that, unfortunately, but plentyeous in mercy. What a wonderful word, isn't it?

What do you need as a human being? Someone rating and ranking you, or do you want someone to be plenteous in mercy? Plentyeous in mercy. And God is plenteous in mercy. He is kind even to those who are unkind to Him.

Even to the wicked, even to the unrighteous, he sees where they're at, he sees their need and he mercifully for gives gives them what they need. Later on in the sermon on the mount, which the beatitudes are the beginning of, Jesus says this, God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. God is so plenteous in mercy He even gives to the unrighteous and the evil, rain, and sun. Do you see that? That's how moved he is to mercy.

Or just think of the great sacrifice. Of the Lord Jesus Christ. God demonstrated his love for us in this while we were yet sinners. Christ died for us. What do we need We need a merciful God, not a ranking, rating, 5 star wanting God.

We fail. We're sinners, but God demonstrated to us, while we were yet sinners, while we were in our sin, while we had nothing to offer him. He gave his son, he gave his son the very thing we needed, a savior, a rescuer, 1 who would die for us, 1 who would take the wrath of God himself upon himself so that we'd be forgiven. That's mercy. That's mercy, isn't it?

I mean, can you grasp that mercy? It's a wonderful, wonderful mercy. Mercy great grace so free. That's the Christian faith. It's all about mercy and it's all about grace.

Look at these sentences. I mean, again, there's just so many in the bible. It's hard to know where to go. But look at these sentences, they're wonderful. Here's 1 from Titus in the new testament.

It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy we have been saved. That is the exact opposite to the world that we're in, about ranking and rating and 5 starring you. Isn't it? It's it's not by works. It's so wonderful.

You're gonna fail if you do works anyway. So here is the most relaxing thing, the most beautiful thing if you can get into your life. But is according to mercy he has saved us. Founding the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at this sentence.

God who is rich in mercy. I mean, that's good news, isn't it? He's he's not poor in mercy. He doesn't have to scrounge around, say, oh, gosh. You know, is there someone else got a bit more mercy in this universe?

He's rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. When we were dead in transgressions. Dead to God, transgressions, sinning against God, evil wicked, rebels against God. It is by grace you have been saved. Isn't that extraordinary?

The God of the Bible, Yahweh is plenteous in mercy. And rich in mercy. He has a melting disposition, whereby he lays to heart our miseries Even the miseries of sinners and wicked and rebellious and failures and people like you and people like me. He did something about it, melting heart, hands came to savor. Hands outstretched with nails rammed through them.

Mercy, Mercy, isn't it? I mean, I just I just said something there, just sort of noted it myself. He did something about our misery. I mean, this wasn't something, was it? Is everything.

It's the only thing Christ on the cross to save us. Now, if we want to know how we should be merciful and therefore happy, we should consider God's mercy. Jesus actually says this. In Luke chapter 6. Be merciful, listen, just as my as your father is merciful.

Be merciful as your father is. Merciful. So blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy as I'll be attitude for tonight. As you live like God, like the Good Samaritan did, as you live like God and show mercy, you yourself will see and understand more and more how merciful God is to an undeserving world. There's something about this.

This is how you'll be complete. As you show mercy to an undeserving person, you you see and are shown how God shows mercy to an undeserving person. And you see that more. And the more mercy you show, the more you'll understand God. That's how it works.

You'll see more and more how merciful God is, and there for, you'll see more and more how indebted to God you are for his mercy to you, as you show mercy. Blessed are the merciful. For they'll be shown mercy. Jesus isn't teaching that, you know, if you show mercy, then it's a works That's a be a total denial of mercy. I mean, it's it's a contradiction in terms.

He's not saying, you show mercy, then God might think about showing you mercy. It's not like that. It's as you show mercy, you'll understand that God has shown you mercy. Mercy by its very nature is never earned. You can't earn mercy.

You can only beg for mercy. The bloke beaten up in the story in the good Samaritan, He didn't earn mercy, did he? All he could do, if he could, I mean, he was almost dead, I guess, could say help. And hopefully mercy would come and it didn't come through the religious lot. As we see others' need of mercy, we see our desperate need of mercy.

As we help others and are merciful and kind to others, hashtag metoo. I need that, which leads me to my third point. We who know God show mercy. And all of this fits with the other beatitude that we've been looking at in our series. In Matthew 5.

You see, let's just fit them together. If I'm poor in spirit, blessed are the poor in spirit, that's the first 1, If I'm poor in spirit that I know I've got 0 ratings to God, I'm poor. Yeah? It's not on the basis of ratings and 5 stars. I've got 0 ratings, 0 righteousness, nothing in my hand I bring simply to your cross eye cling, I'm poor.

Not only that, I mourn because I'm poor and I have 0 ratings in the kingdom of God, Yeah. I I mourn. Actually, oh wretched man that I am Paul writes in in Romans chapter. In in Romans chapter 7. Yeah.

That's what I am. I I mourn for my sin. I am wretched. I'm I'm really 0 rated. I should be cancelled by God.

But not only that. I'm meek. I'm meek because As I've understood who I am, I'm a nobody, then actually I'm not angry at people when they tell me I'm a nobody. And when people 0 rate me, I say, well, I don't blame you. And when people put you down and say angry things about you, you say, You you my greatest enemy.

You don't know how bad I am. You think you're calling me bad. I know I'm worse than that. So you can be meek. You're not having to prove yourself.

Is it nothing to prove because you're rubbish. You're poor. You mourn for your sin. And so therefore, because of that, you hunger and you thirst after righteousness. You don't look within.

You don't try and find righteousness within. Hungry and thirsty people don't say, oh, I think I'll eat some of myself. When you're hungry and thirsty, you go outside of yourself for food, don't you? So you suddenly see your poor and you mourn for your sin and Really, no 1 can tell you bad things because you know you're worse than anything they can make up. And so and so you hunger and thirst for a rightness outside of yourself for the Lord Jesus Christ.

That's what happens. And then when you understand that about yourself, when you understand those truths about yourself, then you look out to other people and you look to them and have mercy on them, because they need the mercy that you need. They need to understand that they're poor. They ought to mourn over their sin. They need to hunger and thirst off the righteousness.

We're just beggars, we're just starving people that have found bread and you need this as well. So I can't come high and mighty to you, I'm poor, but I receive the kingdom of God. I mourned but I received comfort. I'm meek and I receive the earth. I'm hungry and I get my fill.

I've been shown mercy by the 1 who is rich in mercy. My ratings have only got to do with Jesus ratings in the kingdom of heaven, before the father. I'm the beaten up man in the story of the good Samaritan. I've been cancelled by everyone. Except the Jesus figure that comes like a good Samaritan and brings mercy to me.

If you have no mercy towards others, it's a proof that you've not experienced the mercy of God. Or you're severely backslidden. In Matthew 18, Jesus tells a parable, and it's a very simple 1. There's a bloke who owes a master a million pounds. It goes something like this.

Yeah? The master says, you owe me a million pounds. Will you pay it back? The the the servant says, I ain't got a million pounds. The master says, okay, I'm gonna sell you and your family to try and make up some of the money you owe me.

The servant says, Mercy, have mercy on me and my family, and the master says, okay. I wiped the debt out. A million pounds wiped off. That servant that owed a million pounds to the master is owed a few pounds by another servant. He goes to the other servant that owes him a few pounds and says, you owe me a few pounds, and the bloke says, I can't pay.

And so he says, well, I'll sell sell you and your family to pay off the debt. And that servant pleads for mercy, and the bloke who had a million pound debt paid off says, no way. I'm not gonna give you any mercy. And Jesus says, these shocking words of warning at the end of that parable. Here they are, look.

Then the mass called the servant in, you wicked servant. He said, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owned. This is how My heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

What he's saying in that is if you've got an unforgiving, merciless spirit in you, You've not understood the debt that's been taken away from it. You don't understand the gospel. You don't understand the first thing about the Christian faith. If you're bitter and unmerciful towards people, it's because you don't understand what Christ has done for you. You don't understand.

If you're demanding your rights and saying, well, I you don't understand. You don't understand the million pound debt that Christ has given you. Anyone, even your worst enemies, can't do anything as bad as you've done to God and the debt you owe God. And so when you understand the mercy of God and the debt that he's wiped out, you will be merciful to others. Even your enemies.

Even the enemies of God, you'll see that They're bound by lies of this world and satan. And their own sinfulness, their slaves to sin and you were there at 1 time. You were the beaten up man on the side of the road at 1 time, and God gave you mercy. You were poor you mourn, your meek, you were the hungry thirsty 1. And so your compassionate and merciful to them.

So here's my last point, and I'm finished. Are you happy? Are you a happy person? It's a great question, isn't it? Are you happy?

I reckon we ought to ask that question a bit more. Are you happy? You seem a miserable so and so. Are you happy? Bitter, unforgiving, unmerciful people are usually extremely unhappy and have faces to show it.

Misurable looking people. There's a lot of miserable looking people around, aren't there? Blessed are the merciful, happy, completed on the island, where you should be, what you were created for, blessed are the merciful, For they will be shown mercy. Our world has got everything upside down So be careful how you listen to the world's advice, will you? How much time do you spend listening to the word of the world in comparison to listening to the word of God.

How much is it infiltrating you? The world says, to be happy, you need to be successful, to be successful, you need to be pushy, It should be hashtag, look after number 1, and you'll earn merit points by sometimes treading on the lowly and the weak. And canceling people. The world says, show no mercy and then you'll be happy. Jesus says, you couldn't be more wrong.

Who are you gonna listen to? Bless it of the merciful. It's a searching statement, isn't it? Are you merciful? See, Jesus tests us.

See whether you really understand the the previous 4 beatitudes. Do you are you poor in spirit? Well, then you'll be merciful. You mourn for your sin, then you're gonna be merciful to others that sin. You hungry for righteousness?

Well, that comes from outside of you. Merciful. Are you are you merciful? Are you happy? Same question.

You merciful? No. Well, you're not happy then. You're a miserable old git, it's because you're not merciful. Yeah.

Just 1 thing to our culture and then I'll finish. We're in that world, aren't we? I mean, you know, he wrote that back in 2015, I think, or 16, I think it came out. And people were saying we're not there yet. Yes, we are.

You're being rated. Aren't you? If you if you if you if you say the wrong thing, go and put something up that isn't woke You say the wrong thing and you'll be hammered. Yeah? Think of the unmerciful things.

I mean, it's very interesting. That some of the Christian pastors I I wrote I wrote I I wrote to a pastor the other day saying, I'm really sorry. You have to read this stuff. On his Twitter account, some Christian pastors, evangelical pastors, because they had a slight slight disagreement over over something to do with COVID, were calling this it was it was not right It was shocking and depressing to read from from brothers in Christ saying this publicly to another brother. Just because they slightly disagree.

I actually think those men aren't evangelicals in the end. They certainly don't believe Jesus. I haven't got any time for them anymore. They were not merciful in the slightest. What are you like on the internet?

Something you disagree with you type away? Fishious, Unmerciful statements come pouring out. That's because you don't understand Jesus. You don't believe him. You believe the world.

You're you're into ratings. Bless it are the merciful. For they'll be shown mercy. You see the thing is, you take away God from society and you don't have mercy you have merit. It's all based on what you do, how you look, how you smell, how you act, how woke you are, in whatever realm of wokeness you're in.

You take away God and you have judgment without mercy. And that's why we need Christ. And that's why we need to keep preaching Christ and that's why we need to keep telling this world, you can come to know God and into the blessed state of happiness. When you know that God has been merciful to you and forgiven you your sins. And when you know that, you can be merciful to others.

Let's pray. Father, you know us, You know how this can challenge us? We pray please that your word would remake us and remodel us and pick us until we see how unmerciful we can be. Forgive us Help us by your spirit, to listen to the words of Jesus, and to walk in them in Jesus' name, oh, ma'am.

Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

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