Saturday, 27 February 2016
The Mercy of God: An Excerpt From a Sermon of Karl Barth's Given in a Swiss Prison
For God has made all men prisoners, that he may have mercy upon all. (Romans 11.32)
"Since God's mercy is divine and not human, it is poured out on all people, as emphasized in our text. In his letter to the Romans Paul interprets this mercy by insisting that it is extended to Jews and the gentiles- to those near, or at least nearer, to God and those far away from him- to the so-called pious and the so-called unbelievers- to the so-called good and the so-called evil people- truly to all. God has mercy on all, though each in his own way. God's mercy is such as it described in the parable of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, and of the prodigal son.
Let us pause here for a moment. As according to God's holy word, spoken in Jesus Christ, he has mercy on all, each one of you may and shall repeat- not after me, but after him- 'I am one of them'. God as mercy on me and will have mercy on me. The one great sin for anyone right now would be to think: This is not meant for me. 'God does not have mercy on me and will not have mercy on me.' Or even worse- 'I do not need mercy. I do not want it!' This would be the one great sin which we had rather not commit this morning. God has mercy on all, including you and me. As a result you and I may and shall live from this 'yes' spoken to all men, spoken to us, and live here and now.
But wait a minute! Because according to the word that God has spoken in Jesus Christ he has mercy on all, we may and we must repeat in our hearts: 'Among all people on whom God has mercy are this man and this woman, this fellow-creature beside me, in front of me or behind, whom I don't like to remember. Perhaps he did me wrong, or I am not pleased with him for other reasons. Perhaps I must consider him as my enemy, and myself as his enemy.' God has mercy on all- even on this other fellow! His 'yes' is also valid for him. The one great sin from which we shall try to escape this morning is to exclude anyone from the 'yes' of God's mercy. In our thoughts, words and deeds we may live, and we must live, with each neighbour as with one to whom God is compassionate.We not only pray 'Lord have mercy on me!' We also pray 'Lord have mercy on us, have mercy on us all!' This has been the prayer of the Christian Church from the very beginning, and this is the true prayer for us today."
-Delieverance To The Captives, Sermons in a Prison in Basel.