Reflections: February 14, 2021
By Jacob Ehrhard
And he cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Luke 18:38)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. After the congregation enters the presence of God during the Introit, the very first words it says collectively to God in the Divine Service are, "Lord, have mercy upon us." It's a short prayer, but a necessary one.
We don't come before God with anything. There is no status, no store of works, no special privilege to which we can appeal. The only thing that allows us access to the presence of God is His mercy.
Mercy means that we don't get what we deserve. If we were to appeal to our own status, our own works, or claim some kind of privilege, we wouldn't be allowed in God's presence. Or worse, God would allow us in His presence and then unleash His wrath and punishments, which we couldn't bear.
But God has mercy. The blind man begging on the road to Jericho knew this. And He knew why God has mercy. It's embedded in the man's confession of who Jesus is. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" If we were to approach God in His majesty, there would be no mercy. But God has already shown mercy by sending His Son Jesus to be the Son of David.
The fact that God comes in human flesh is a signal of His mercy for the whole world. The blind man simply asks for that mercy to be extended to him personally.
We pray the same thing in the Divine Service. "Lord, have mercy upon us," is followed with "Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." That's the song of Christmas. The mercy of God is shown in the Son of God's becoming the Son of David in order to suffer, die, rise, and ascend with our human nature to sit at God's right hand.
Lord, have mercy upon us. The blind man received his sight, and we are likewise made whole by the mercy of God, poured out through the gifts of Jesus, the Son of David. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, mercifully hear our prayers and having set us free from the bonds of our sins deliver us from every evil; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Quinquagesima)
-Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is the pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.
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