The man before us had been mercilessly ridiculed and beaten with hatred. His crime? Mercy. He had broken through in a world micromanaged by corruption and intolerance. He had made the difference and had run the distance, but seemingly to no avail. Before us he bled, his words silenced by judgment and crucifixion. Nails pierced his hands and feet. The scene etched its way into our memory, never be erased. As followers, we walked away overwhelmed and confused.
We had watched at a distance. The thief on one side railed against him while the one on the other begged for mercy. The sky had grown angry. A distant stranger begged Pilate for his body. We scattered because if they did this to the man before us, what would they do to us.
For three days he became a static memory, untouchable. We groped for this moment to make sense, but it wouldn’t come. Our blank stares looked through each other as if into another world where answers couldn’t be fathomed. We wished for the man that had stood before us to do it again. We were suffocating in unbelief, strangling in the fear that gripped us. Broken.
Then the rumors started. Soundbites of a resurrection hit the news cycles in Jerusalem. We waited. We doubted. We found the tomb empty. Still we waited. Rumors of his resurrection circled back at us more times than we could process. Still we waited and waited.
Then it happened. He stood before us. Walked right through the wall! He broke bread with us as if nothing had happened. We touched his scars. We believed in the man before us. He came and went as if on a secret mission. We felt excluded. We went fishing. Caught nothing.
He showed up on the shore frying fish! Our nets began to bulge with plenty. Peter swam ashore. He took him for a walk. The man who stood before us, forgave us. We had belligerently betrayed him and yet he mercifully forgave us. Wave after wave of mercy saturated us. Mercy marked us.
Judgement is so common, so much the knee jerk reaction of cultures bogged down in unbridled fear and intolerance. But mercy, the mercy of the man who stood before us, triumphs over judgment. Two thousand years have passed and yet his mercy stands waiting its moment to mark another generation.
It always matters what marks us. The culture of our day vies for the opportunity to define us. But there is another that stands before us. His name is Jesus. His mercy awaits permission to mark us. He desires to do more than stand before us, he desires to stand within us. We decide what marks us. We give authority to what marks us.
Mercy triumphs over judgment. The mercy of Jesus saves, heals, delivers and redeems. Regardless of where we once stood, he forgives and calls us to extend his mercy to others. Truth is that everyone deserves judgment. But Jesus in His grace extends mercy. So must we.