The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Psalm 145:9 (ESV)
After the conclusion of World War II an International Military Tribunal held a set of trials for German officials involved in the war and the Holocaust during the Nazi regime. The trials were known as the Nuremberg Trails and were held from 1945-1949 in Nuremberg, Germany.
Before the trials began the courts offered the defendants attorneys and chaplains. Of the 21 offered, 6 asked for a Catholic priest and 15 asked for a Lutheran minister. When searching for a Lutheran minister the courts found a U.S. Army Chaplain who was Lutheran. Among the 15 men who asked for the Lutheran Chaplain were Göring, Sauckel, von Ribbentrop, Keitel and Rudolph Hess. The chaplain later told that as he stood before these men all he could say to them was, “Jesus Christ died for your sins and offers you forgiveness if you will accept it.”
During their very first meeting Sauckel fell to his knees and said, “Oh God, have mercy on me a sinner.” After a period of time reading the scriptures von Ribbentrop also sought forgiveness and was converted. Keitel was another of the 13 men who sought God and received his mercy.
As you read this story you might think that God’s mercy is not fair. How could God forgive these men of such heinous crimes? Well, you’re right. God’s mercy isn’t fair. Why? Because mercy is something that none of us deserve. All of us deserve eternal punishment, but God through his Son has chosen to extend mercy to many. The apostle Paul wrote, But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4-5 ESV)
James Ryle once said, “Those who have been saved from the lowest hell enter into the highest praise.” Though each of us have come from different backgrounds and have experienced different “degrees” of sin, we were all headed in the same direction, hell. Our only hope was that God would show us mercy through the blood of his Son. Peter wrote, Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10 ESV)
If you think about it, God owes us nothing; yet he freely gives apart from human effort. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:15-16 ESV) If God never answers another prayer, if he chooses not to bless us or use us above where we are right now, the mercy he has already shown us is enough to deserve our highest praise.
Have you accepted God’s mercy for the forgiveness of your sin? Have you praised God for his mercy lately?
Scriptures for meditation:
Romans 9: 18