The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. — Psalm 145:8,9
Nothing reveals the character of God more than these two verses of Scripture. The Lord is gracious! And He’s full of compassion. The dictionary tells us that “to be full of compassion” means to be merciful. So “compassion” and “mercy” are companion terms, we might say.
And, if you look up the words “compassion” and “mercy,” you’ll find that often the same Hebrew or Greek word is translated one time “mercy” and another time “compassion.”
Therefore, “to have mercy” means to be full of compassion. God is full of compassion, He is of great mercy, and His tender mercies are over all of His works.
I want to talk to you about the subject of mercy. It’s such a big subject that I can’t cover it all in one chapter, but I want to emphasize one certain part of it. Usually we think of “mercy” only in connection with the Lord having mercy on the sinner and saving him. Well, that’s a part of it, but we also need to think of God’s mercy in connection with healing.
The first text we will look at is in Mark chapter 1. I want you to notice some things about the Lord Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is the will of God in action, we can look at God’s compassion manifested in the Person of Jesus.
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
Notice that compassion moved Jesus to heal the leper. Healing is a display of
Compassion Compelled Jesus
Let’s look at another example of the Lord’s compassion in relation to healing.
13 . . . [Jesus] departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.
14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Verse 14 says that Jesus was moved with compassion. Well, what did compassion move Him to do? It moved Him to heal! Verse 14 says, “. . . and he [Jesus] healed their sick.”
I think that the compassion of the Lord in connection with healing has been hidden from us because it has been taught that Jesus healed the sick only to prove His deity. Yet that kind of statement isn’t in the Bible. Not once, in all the recorded cases of healing, does the Bible ever say, “. . . and to prove His deity and divinity, Jesus healed them.” And if the Bible doesn’t say it, then we shouldn’t say it either.
According to the Bible, Jesus healed the sick because of His compassion, not because of His deity or divinity. His compassion compelled Him to do it. And, thank God, He’s the same compassionate Lord today.
God never changes. He’s the same now as He was back then. So if He was gracious then, He’s gracious now. If He was full of compassion then, He’s full of compassion now. If He was merciful then, He’s merciful now.
Healing Is a Mercy
The third example of God’s great mercy manifested in the Person of Jesus
Christ in the area of healing is in Matthew chapter 20.
29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
The two blind men in this passage cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them. When Jesus asked these men what they wanted, they did not say, “That our sins may be forgiven.” You see, we usually think of mercy in connection with the forgiveness or remission of sins. We think of the mercy of God extended toward the sinner. But is He any less merciful to the sick? These men were asking for
mercy in connection with healing.
If they had asked for their sins to be forgiven, that would be mercy all right. But when Jesus asked them what they wanted, they answered, “That we might receive our sight.” Healing is a mercy, too.
Verse 34 says that Jesus had compassion—or mercy—on them and “. . . touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”
Now, let’s review what happened in this passage. These two blind men asked for the mercy of having their eyes opened. Jesus granted unto them the mercy of healing, proving that healing is a mercy just as forgiveness is a mercy.
The Father of Mercies
Mercy isn’t just something that God has or shows; it’s part of His nature.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the FATHER OF MERCIES, and the God of all comfort.
This verse of Scripture reveals the character of my Father God. So many times we as Christians don’t see God our Father in the light that we should. As I’ve said many times before, some Christians picture God as a sort of traffic cop who is just waiting for them to do something wrong so He can blow the whistle on them. Or they picture God as an austere judge who is waiting, with gavel in hand, to smite them the minute they do wrong. Or they picture God as waiting with a giant flyswatter, ready to swat them as soon as they stop moving.
Yes, God is against wrongdoing, and He is a God of justice. But Second
Corinthians 1:3 tells us that He is also the Father of mercies.
‘Guilty, Your Honor’
I remember holding a meeting in a particular Full Gospel Church and traveling to the meeting one night with a gentleman who I had asked to be a special singer. One night while we were driving to the revival meeting that was some distance away, he began telling me a story about something that had happened to him recently.
This was back in the Depression days, and this man owned a little business. He was what we call a “lay preacher” because he was never in full-time ministry. Usually, this man would sing in meetings, but sometimes pastors would ask him to preach if they had to be gone from the church.
A pastor contacted this man because an emergency arose and asked him to
take care of the Wednesday night service. And so this gentleman said he would do it.
Well, back in Depression days, places of business didn’t operate for just eight hours. This man’s business was open nearly every hour it could possibly be open. So on the day the pastor asked him to take the service, this man was busy working. He didn’t have time to do a lot of praying or studying for that night’s service.
As this man left for the service, he realized he was running late and was going to have to rush in order to make it on time. He had to drive through two or three little towns to get to the church. And while he was driving, he tried to meditate on scriptures for that night’s message.
One of the small towns he drove through didn’t have but two red lights in the whole town. Preoccupied with preparing for the service, he ran one of them. About that time, he heard a siren and looked up to see flashing red lights right behind him.
He pulled over, and the policeman came up to him and said, “Do you realize what you did? You not only ran a red light, but you were also driving thirty miles an hour in a twenty-five mile an hour zone.” The man answered, “Well, Officer, if you say so, then it must have been so. I didn’t even know there was a red light back there. I’ll be honest with you. I was on my way to preach, and I should have been paying attention, but I wasn’t. I’m in the wrong; that’s all there is to it. Go ahead, and write me a ticket.”
The officer said, “Well, you did run the red light and break the speed limit, but
I’m just going to give you a ticket for speeding. We’ll forget about the other.” Well, this man didn’t have the money to pay for the ticket, so he had to appear
before the local judge who would decide what he would have to do to work off
what he owed.
When he stood before the judge, the judge asked, “How do you plead?”
He answered, “Sir, I’m guilty if this young man [the policeman] says so.” And then he went on to explain the situation to the judge exactly how he had explained it to the policeman.
The judge said, “Just because you were going to a service and so forth is no excuse.”
The man replied, “Judge, I don’t have the money to pay the ticket. You’ll just have to put me in jail. That’s all there is to it.”
(In those days they had what they called the “county farm” or the “pea patch.”
And anyone who couldn’t pay his fine was required to work on the county farm in order to pay it off.)
Justice or Mercy?
Then the man went on to say, “Judge, I didn’t come here to plead for justice; I don’t need that, because if I get justice I’m going to jail. I came here to plead for mercy.”
Then he added, “Sir, I don’t know whether or not you’re a Christian.”
The Judge said, “Yes, I am. I teach a Bible class at Such-and-such church.”
The man continued, “Well, then you ought to know the Bible. Do you remember the story in John chapter 8 about the woman who was caught in adultery? Under the law she was supposed to be stoned to death. As the people prepared to stone her, they asked Jesus about the law. He answered them by saying, ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’ (v. 7). Then Jesus stooped down and wrote something in the sand. When He looked up, everyone was gone. He said, ‘Woman, where are your accusers?’ She said, ‘I have none.’ So Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’
The man continued, “Now, I did wrong all right, but if you’ll have mercy upon me, I’ll promise you I won’t do that anymore. I’ll go and sin no more.”
The judge replied, “You mean that story is in the Bible?”
The man happened to have his New Testament with him, so he opened it to John chapter 8 and showed it to the judge. The judge read the passage and said, “Case dismissed.” And then he added, “I’m going to teach that to my Sunday school class next Sunday.”
This man asked the judge for mercy because that’s what he needed. He didn’t need justice; he needed mercy.
‘Mercies’ Is Plural!
Isn’t it good to know that God is the Father of mercies? Yes, He is a God of justice, but He is also the Father of mercies. If He wasn’t, none of us would be alive today.
Let’s take a closer look at Second Corinthians 1:3.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the FATHER OF MERCIES, and the God of all comfort.
Notice this verse doesn’t say that God is the Father of mercy, singular. It says
He is the Father of mercies, plural! You see, if He was just the Father of one mercy—the mercy of forgiveness toward the sinner, for example—then Paul would have called Him the Father of mercy. But, thank God, He’s the Father of mercies, and one of His mercies is healing!
Telling of the Lord’s Compassion
In Mark chapter 5, we read that Jesus delivered a man possessed by a devil. I want to call your attention to the fact that Jesus had compassion on this man who was possessed by a devil, who broke the chains that bound him, and who wandered among the tombs, crying out day and night while cutting himself with stones. Jesus had compassion upon this man, and the man was delivered, healed, clothed, and restored to his right mind.
We know that Jesus healed him out of compassion, because Mark 5:19 says, “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” This verse implies that the Lord did great things for the man because the Lord had compassion on him.
The man did just as Jesus told him to do. Mark 5:20 says, “And he [the man] departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” And because this man told others about the Lord’s compassion (Jesus told him to “tell what things the Lord has done for you and how He had compassion on you.”), multitudes came to Jesus to be healed. How do we know that? Matthew chapter 15 tells us so.
30 And great multitudes came unto him [Jesus], having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
Now it’s important for us to realize that the setting of this passage is Decapolis
—the same place the man in Mark chapter 5 was to go and tell about the Lord’s compassion. You may not realize that it is the same place without a close study of the Word, but it is (see Mark 7:31-37 for the parallel account of Matthew
15:30 and 31).
As a result of this man publishing, or telling about, the Lord’s compassion, great multitudes came to Jesus and were healed. Again the Word says, “And great multitudes came unto him [Jesus], having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb
to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matt. 15:30,31). All those healings came about because of the testimony of this one man, because he published, or told about, the Lord’s compassion.
Is God Still Merciful?
Some people say healing isn’t for us today. Well, is compassion for us today? Of course, it is! And is the Lord still compassionate and merciful? Of course, He is! We have seen in the New Testament that the words “compassion” and “mercy” are consistently mentioned in connection with healing. So we know that because God’s mercy is still for us today, healing is also for us today!
Remember, God is the Father of mercies. Not only is the forgiveness of sin and the remission of sin a mercy, but healing is a mercy! If you will simply think of healing as one of God’s tender mercies, you’ll find right away that you’ll get somewhere.
God is merciful to save, and He is merciful to heal. Thank God for the mercy of healing!