Quick! What fictional character said: “We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, in the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.”?
Those were the words of John Keese, the head instructor of the Cobra Kai karate school in the original The Karate Kid movie. (1984) So different are the words of James: “… judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
In no place is mercy’s triumph over justice more visible than on Calvary’s cross. It was there that justice was served… but mercy won the day.
Eugene Peterson writes: “…forgiveness is the last word. I take no interest in eliminating the tension between justice and forgiveness by taking justice off the table. … But I am interested in reintroducing the priority of this Jesus-prayed forgiveness into our lives. In matters of sin and injustice and evil, the last prayer of Jesus (“forgive them, they know not what they do”) is not for justice but for forgiveness. … Assuming that the criminal crucified next to Jesus was receiving a just death sentence (he said as much himself), the sentence was not revoked in Jesus’ prayer. The criminal died for his crime. But forgiveness trumped justice. It always does. (Tell it Slant, pp. 247, 248.)
Having received such mercy, we need to be extending this mercy generously to those around us… to the co-worker who has done us wrong… to the friend that has assasinated our character… to the family members that took advantage of us. Find mercy to give them, by reflecting on the mercy YOU have been given. It is time to enroll in the Jesus academy of mercy and to drop out of Cobra Kai.