October 30, 2022 Asking Jesus for Mercy

Asking Jesus for Mercy

October 30, 2022


Read Matthew 20:29-34.


As they left Jericho a great crowd followed him. There were so many who followed him…for a time. But how many were still following him once he was arrested? Only the 11 and even Peter denied him! How many were following him even after his resurrection? Only 120 (Acts 1:15) out of thousands. It is still like this today. Many begin following Jesus, but when there is persecution, so many stop following him. When life becomes difficult, many stop following him. Jesus is not looking for temporary followers. He is looking for those who will follow him throughout there entire lives. Will you be one of the “great crowd?” Or, will you be one remains faithful? [Take a moment to pray.]

30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”[1]


First, let us understand what mercy is. I have given you this definition of both mercy and grace before, but it’s good to be reminded again:


“Mercy is God’s favor that holds back from us what we deserve. Grace is God’s favor that gives us what we do not deserve.” – Rolfe Barnard


According to Barnard, both mercy and grace are expressions of God’s favor towards us. Regarding mercy, we deserve to receive either punishment or discipline from the Lord because of our sin[2]. Yet, when the Lord shows us mercy he does not punish us or discipline us, even though we deserve it.


Second, we should always consider who it is that a biblical author or speaker is writing to or speaking to. This helps us not only to understand what is being said but also how it will apply to us. The epistles, almost in their entirety, apply to God’s covenant people, unless the author identifies people in his letter that are unbelievers (e.g., Jude 8-16). In the gospels and Acts, we must consider the audience of the speaker to know.  We have been doing this all along as we have been laboring through Matthew.


In this passage, Jesus is speaking to God’s covenant people under the old covenant. Unless a speaker identifies his audience as objects of God’s wrath (e.g., 3:7-10), we understand that, in most instances, he is speaking to his covenant people and we can apply what we learn to ourselves.


These two blind men belong to the Lord. They call Jesus the “Son of David.” This is a messianic title. So, they recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah!


God’s covenant people are asking him for mercy. We are God’s covenant people now and we ought to emulate these two blind men and ask for mercy. Isn’t this what the author of Hebrews compels us to do?


16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [3]


We all have a great need for the mercy of Christ. We need mercy for at least three reasons.


[1] We need mercy because of our sins. For those who belong to Christ, our sins are forgiven judicially. Christ has paid the penalty for us at the cross and, on that final Judgment Day, we have no worries. Not only are we justified, but we even have the righteousness of Christ applied to us (I Cor 1:30; Rom. 4:6, 11; 5:17; Phil. 3:9).


But the disciple of Christ still falls into sin on occasion. A disciple of Christ may even have a besetting sin – a sin that they are particularly prone to. They will despise it because they know it displeases their Lord and Savior, but they struggle with it. I believe besetting sins can be overcome and the child of God can gain complete freedom from such sins. Indeed, this is the Scriptural testimony. Whether besetting or not, most believers are still fighting sins in their lives. Because we are, we need mercy!


The Lord is not content to leave us in our sins. He is sanctifying us. He is transforming us. This process of sanctification includes discipline. When we sin, especially if we repeat the same sin, we are subject to the Lord’s discipline. This is why we need mercy!


There are two hindrances to asking for the mercy which we desperately need. One hindrance is taking sin too lightly. Many Christians have this problem. God hates sin. But some Christians tolerate sin in their lives. They tolerate it either because they have become  accustomed to it in their own lives or because they see the same sin that may plague them being practiced by others so they tend to think it is not serious.


We must hate sin because God hates sin!


The other hindrance to asking for mercy because of our sins is an apprehension to come to the Lord because we may feel he is too angry with us.


Our greatest hindrance to receiving mercy is ourselves! Sometimes we feel either our sin is too great or our sin is too frequent and we will lack confidence when we approach the Lord. This is why the author of Hebrews encourages his readers to come to the throne of grace with boldness (KJV, NKJV, CSB, NLT)! Because he knows that this is a common experience.


So, we need to ask Jesus for mercy because of our sins, unless you like discipline.


[2] Second, we need to ask Jesus for mercy because of our foolish decisions. There are some things that we do that are not sinful, but are simply foolish.


Here are some foolish things that Christians do according to the New Testament:


  • They fail to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1-4).
  • They fail to use the gifts the Lord has given them in a wise way (25:14-30).
  • They fail to adequately understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27).
  • They try to obey the Lord in their own human power without relying upon the Spirit (they may even succeed in this for a time, but they will find that their obedience is joyless) (Gal. 3:1-3).
  • They fail to understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17).


If we consider the book of Proverbs, we can add more foolish courses of action:


  • We can fail to save money (Prov. 21:20).
  • We can think we are always right (Prov. 12:15).
  • We can be careless (Prov. 14:16). Think of how many accidents could be avoided and unpleasant situations evaded if only we were more careful!
  • We can fail to delight in understanding things (Prov. 18:2).
  • We can fail to learn from our mistakes (Prov. 26:11). (Husbands not listening to their wives.)
  • We can trust in our own notions rather than trying to understand other points of view (Prov. 28:26)
  • We can fail to keep our emotions in check (Prov. 29:11).
  • We may speak too rashly, saying or writing something that was best left unsaid (Proverbs 30:32). Sadly, you can change the entire course of your life, for the worse, by saying or writing a few words that should never have been said! How impactful words can be! There have been people who have missed marvelous opportunities that would have made their lives much better if only they had kept their mouths closed or had refrained from writing something in a moment of anger.


All of these foolish tendencies can place us in situations that are unpleasant, unfavorable, or even put us in a place of suffering.


We can cry out to Jesus for mercy when we get into circumstances due to our own foolish actions or words! If you find yourself in a situation that is bad, even very bad, then cry out to the Lord for mercy! Tell the Lord that your own foolishness has put you where you are and ask him to deliver you in spite of your foolishness! Our Lord is merciful!


[3] Finally, we ought to ask Jesus for mercy in our physical ailments.


And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”[4]


Remember what mercy is!


“Mercy is God’s favor that holds back from us what we deserve. Grace is God’s favor that gives us what we do not deserve.” – Rolfe Barnard


These blind men were asking for mercy. This means that they understood that they did not deserve to be healed. Do you see it? None of us deserve perfect health. None of us deserve to be healed. Why? Because we still have rebellion in our hearts! Yes, the one who has flown to Christ for salvation has also renounced their rebellion. They seek to obey Christ, to follow him. But, we still have a fallen nature and there are vestiges of rebellion remaining in our hearts. Thus, we deserve nothing from the Lord except nearly constant discipline. Physical problems, although often due to our own foolish decisions (overeating, eating unhealthy foods, etc.), are used by the Lord to sanctify us (2 Cor. 12:7-9).


We can cry out to the Lord for mercy in our bodily problems.


The Lord had pity on these two men!


34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. [5]


The Lord had pity then. He still has pity! He does not always heal. The apostle Paul wasn’t healed even though he was used by the Lord to heal others! But, the Lord still heals. Ask him for mercy in your suffering. He may have compassion on you.


There is one verse from our passage this morning that we have yet to consider: verse 31.


The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” [6]


The crowd did not like these men crying out to the Lord for mercy. All kinds of reasons will arise to detract you from asking for mercy, but you must pay them no heed. It may be that you might be embarrassed to ask. These men were not embarrassed. They were desperate!


Or, it may be your own apathy that delays you from crying out for mercy. Oh! This is the most dangerous reason of all! Because it is so hard to overcome, until it is too late.


See also that these men persisted! They cried out for mercy and did not receive an answer. The crowd dissuaded them but they kept asking. Keep asking! Ask again and again. Persist! Be like these men. Don’t stop asking!


The blind men’s short prayer, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David,” is a form of what has become known as “The Jesus Prayer.” This is a short but very powerful prayer that is widely used by the Eastern Orthodox church for more than a millennia and is still used today.  The full Jesus Prayer is this: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is also found in this form: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” And, still shorter, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” All three forms are practiced.


Although the prayer is not found word for word in the NT, it is drawn from several verses in the NT, such as our passage this morning and Luke 18:13, so that its content is solidly biblical.


Evangelicals are not too familiar with this prayer but, because it is biblical, it is one that more and more so-called fundamentalists are beginning to practice. Hank Hanegraaff promotes it[7] and Christian counselors have discovered that simply having their patients who are experiencing anxiety recite this prayer ten times out loud did more to relieve their anxiety than the actual counseling! One book that is fascinating in this regard is an anonymous autobiography entitled The Way of a Pilgrim, which chronicles the experiences of an Orthodox believer during his travels in Russia in the 1800’s. In this book the author recites the Jesus Prayer hundreds of time each day and experiences an amazing peace and spiritual strength.


The key to experiencing the power of this prayer is frequency and repetition. It has been observed that Jesus did not forbid repetition but, rather, meaningless repetition. This is probably correct because the dwellers of heaven use repetition. Not just repetition, but endless repetition!


Thus, it has been recommended that the prayer be recited no fewer than ten times. Actually, the more, the better. My personal experience in using this prayer is that I always receive a strong sense of peace when reciting.


What ought we to do?


We recognize our need for mercy, even as God’s covenant people.


  • We come to the throne of grace boldly, seeking mercy because of our sins.
  • We ask for mercy because of our foolish words and actions.
  • We ask for mercy for the ailments of our hearts and our bodies.
  • We trust that the Lord will answer our cries for mercy because we know he is compassionate towards us.


Let’s close by praying the prayer.


“Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me!” (10x)





[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 20:30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Traditionally, punishment refers to what those outside the covenant receive and discipline to what those in a covenent relationship with God receive. However, we do not want to make too much of this distinction, because Israel was also “punished” for their disobedience.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 4:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 20:32–33). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 20:34). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 20:31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.