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Did Jesus have mercy or sympathy for the Syrophoenician woman who came to Him, begging Him, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession,” and oddly enough, Jesus did not say a word.  So His disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before Him.  “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. What do you think?

Is there a difference between sympathy and mercy?  Now, do not look up a dictionary; look at the word of God.  Firstly, you all know that mercy is what God has said He desires, “…I desire mercy, not sacrifice…” Jesus quoted this to the Pharisees when they complained that He was eating with the tax collectors and sinners – lawbreakers in Israel – and again when they complained about the disciples picking up heads of wheat to eat on a Sabbath,  He replied, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”

As instruments of wrath, it is paramount that you do not condemn the innocent.  You can correctly say no one is innocent, for all have sinned and all are descended from Adam, the sinner.  However, Jesus, the Lamb of God, has taken away the sin (singular) of the world, not sins of the world, but the sin of the world, as John the Baptist testified, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” That sin (singular) is the sin of Adam that cursed the ground, as God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it…” When the blood of Jesus splattered on the ground, the sin of the world was removed, so that from then on a person’s innocence or guilt would be determined not by the sin of Adam, but rather, by his response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Remember Jesus said, “When He [Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see Me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

So see and understand that since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh from 50 days after the crucifixion of Jesus, the criteria for guilt of sin is no longer determined by the sin of disobedience, which was Adam’s sin, but rather, the sin of unbelief, and more importantly, not unbelief in God the Creator, but unbelief of Jesus the Saviour.

See the words: “…in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me…” So how are men meant to believe in Jesus?  When the gospel, the good news, is preached and when it is confirmed with miracles, signs and wonders, for even Jesus conceded, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.” So is it any wonder that Jesus commanded His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. … And these signs will accompany those who believe…” However, men are called to believe the good news.  News, elect, is not a story, a pantomime, an interpretation, a belief system or a doctrine… news is news; it is an accurate report of that which happened or was said as it happened and as it was said.

As we all are coming to know, Jesus was born in the northern spring at the time when lambs are born, and was visited first by shepherds as the angels told them… and not in the middle of the northern winter as it has been presented by Christmas tradition.  The first is news; the second is a story, for the birth never took place on December 24th of the Julian calendar.  Is it any wonder then that though Christmas has been celebrated around the world, the world does not believe?  When what is preached of Jesus is not the news, but a story, a fantasy or a pantomime, there is nothing to believe.  And when there are no miracles or accompanying signs like demons being driven out, tongues spoken and the sick being healed by the laying on of hands, then who can believe?  Firstly, there is no news to believe.

Secondly, there is no sign to confirm the ‘news’.  As such, those who have not heard the good news of Jesus being born in the northern spring in Bethlehem, but only the story of His birth being in the middle of winter, and do not believe the Jesus that they have heard of ARE NOT GUILTY OF SIN!  Only those who have heard the news about Jesus and had the news confirmed and still do not believe are guilty of sin – the sin of unbelief.  In truth, the tragedy of their failing to receive the salvation that is theirs is the responsibility of those who failed to deliver the news and have that news confirmed by signs and wonders.

Again, see another reason why those who call Him, “Lord, Lord,” and claim to have prophesied in His Name and in His Name driven out demons and performed many miracles are told, “I never knew you.  Away from Me, you evildoers!” For Jesus never sent us to prophesy, but to preach the good news.  Prophecy is NOT NEWS… it is prediction that has yet to happen.  News has already happened.  Wake up!  The driving out of demons and healing of the sick is to confirm the NEWS, not to shore up the prophecy!

As such, by the standard of what has been passed around by the church as the ‘good news’ of Jesus Christ in the last two millenniums, all who refused to believe the ‘non-news’ about Jesus Christ are in fact not guilty of sin.  For the sin that the Holy Spirit convicts men of is their refusal to believe in Jesus.  Now, which group of men were guilty of not believing in Jesus on resurrection morning – the disciples of Jesus to whom Mary and the other women delivered the news or the pharisees and chief priests to whom the soldiers delivered the news?  Sadly, it was the pharisees who believed the news so that they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ ” How do we know the chief priests and elders believed the soldiers?  Because these people who loved money paid a large sum to the soldiers.  If they did not believe the soldiers, they would never have parted with the money, much less speak on their behalf to Pilate!  So, who got the first correction of unbelief of Jesus from the Holy Spirit?  Men who plotted to kill Jesus and succeeded or men who repeatedly said they would rather die with Him than deny Him?

So then, elect, be careful you do not condemn the innocent… and to begin to see who are the innocent ones, you have to understand the difference between mercy and sympathy.

Jesus could say nothing to that mother even though her need was great and real, for she asked first, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” She was not a Jew and as such, not a lawbreaker – not a rebel against God’s law through Moses – that Jesus should have mercy on her, for mercy is for a lawbreaker who has been found guilty and deserving of the sentence prescribed by law.  Mercy is when the prescribed sentence is withheld.

However, when Jesus said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs,” and she replied, “…but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table,” Jesus could respond not only because her faith was great, but rather, her faith was so great that He could have sympathy on her.  Likewise for both centurions at Capernaum in Matthew 8.5 and Luke 7.3… one who came to Him and the other who heard of Him, probably from his friend of Matthew 8.5.  Jesus showed sympathy to them for their faith… for they were not Jews to whom the Law of Moses had come, but sons of Adam whose sin He was removing as the Lamb of God.

Now, compare this to the woman who was brought to Him in the temple in John 8.3 as the teachers of the law and pharisees said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do You say?” The woman was obviously Jewish, and for the sake of righteousness, let us say that she was indeed caught in adultery, for she never denied it.  Indeed, when Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?” she did not plead her innocence, but rather, confessed her guilt, saying, “No one, sir.” When Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you,” and declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” Jesus had mercy on her.  He mitigated the sentence that should have been given by the law.  He had the right to give her mercy because He had not only taken away the sin of the world, but had fulfilled the law and would soon have the burden of the sins of breaking the law transferred to Him when He would fulfil Leviticus 5.1 by His silence.  He could show her mercy because He was going to pay for her sin by taking on the sentence she should have had.

So then, what is the first difference between sympathy and mercy?  Sympathy is what we show to those who have not been preached the gospel to receive Jesus… though they may be sinners by the Law of Moses, they are not, for unless they are under the Law of Moses – that is, those who are circumcised under the covenant of Israel – not even those who are circumcised under the covenant of Abraham are included.  For Abraham’s covenant extends to the sons of Haggai and Keturah, but the covenant of Israel extends only to those under Moses, those who were circumcised after the deliverance. No mercy is given to them or need to be shown to them, only sympathy, when they are in need and plead for help.  However, if they are enemies of the good news – that is, having heard the NEWS and not the story or lie about Jesus, and then they oppose the truth – they will then be shown mercy after they are utterly defeated.

However, those who are in need of mercy are those who have broken the law that has been given to them.  The Jew who has broken the Law of Moses can be shown mercy according to the Law of Moses by the One who fulfilled the law… that is, Jesus.  As such, since we are outlaws by the law, we are not their judges, but rather, we should bring them justice so that they may be judged according to the righteous requirements of their law.  Do we show them sympathy?  Only if they have fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses.  Do we show them mercy?  Only if they have repented of their breaking of the Law of Moses.  Otherwise, we have nothing to do with them, no more than we have to do with the world, but to bless them by bringing Jesus the Messiah back.  Do we fight for them?  No.  Do we fight against them?  No.  But if they are in need, we help as we help all the sons of Adam.  Their being sons of Jacob brings no special favour, for if they had done what they should have done, they would be blessed, not cursed.

Those who profess to belong to Christ by faith… now, to whom do you show sympathy and to whom do you show mercy?  That will have to wait for now.  But learn and see, elect, there is a difference between sympathy and mercy.

God has no desire for sympathy from His people, but mercy, for in Hosea 6.6 He was not speaking to Egypt, Assyria or Babylon… for indeed, why would God ever say to those who are not His own, “…I desire mercy…”?  Who can give God mercy when God is Almighty?  But to His own people, God said, “…I desire mercy…” for it is only those whom God loves as His own who can so hurt Him that God would desire mercy from.  God shows mercy because He is merciful… but now, do you see from whom God desires mercy?

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