To be merciful is not natural. The world values retribution, not mercy. After all, the "mercy rule" is for little league players - not varsity sports! If a judge were to have mercy on a serial killer and give that person probation, people would be furious. The masses rejoiced when Saddam and Osama were killed. We love retribution, not mercy.
Mel Gibson gave us a great example in his movie, The Patriot. Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin, is a veteran of the French and Indian Wars. Being a widowed father of seven, Martin was not interested in joining in with the militia to fight against the British. One of his sons goes off to fight in the Revolutionary War, but returns home wounded.
While Gabriel, the son, is recovering, the enemy arrives at the Martin's home. Gabriel is discovered, arrested, and taken as a prisoner of war. In protest, Benjamin's youngest son, Thomas, tries to free Gabriel, and he is shot on the spot.
The murder moves Benjamin Martin from pacifist to freedom fighter. He takes up arms against the British. Through guerrilla warfare, Benjamin frees his son and slaughters a host of British soldiers. Despite the fact that the movie is called "The Patriot," Benjamin is not portrayed as an individual that fights for his country. Instead, he is out for retribution - and we applaud.
We applaud because a great injustice is done. Benjamin Martin moved heaven and earth in order to right the wrong. He terrorized and slaughtered anyone in his path. There is no room for mercy; there is only cold hard justice.
And if they had murdered my son, I would have done the same!
I am not saying there is no place for justice. I am saying that our ideal is that justice be served, that we are awarded the retribution that we seek. If this is what we demand, and if this is what we seek, how can there be any hope for us?
Instead, Jesus told us the merciful are blessed, for they will receive mercy. Through the free gift of mercy that Jesus gave us, we can receive mercy - not the justice that we deserve!