Mercy, a major theme in these chapters. And it all begins with the One of whom it is said, in the transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (17:5). Mercy for the man who came to Jesus with this request: “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly” (17:15). Patience with the disciples who seemed so dense and self-serving in their requests. Mercy toward the one lost sheep. Forgiveness toward a brother in the church; hear this: “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times’" (18:21,22). Mercy toward the large crowds that “followed him, and he healed them there” (19:2). Mercy and grace toward the children. The landowner’s graciousness toward his hired helpers.
Of course, mixed in, here and there, are warnings given to those who will not heed Jesus’ teachings. But the chapters as a whole point to the One in whom mercy and grace are wondrously found: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (20:26-28). Grace! Mercy! Forgiveness! All found in our Savior! What a Savior!
Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound;
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art;
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity. –Charles Wesley (1740)