During Orthros one Sunday, the chanters were singing a beautiful hymn that caught my attention. The words jumped off the page when I read what they were singing. The Virgin Mary gave birth to “the Abyss of Mercy.” I was so struck by the phrase that I brought the altar servers together and read it to them. I couldn’t recall the Lord Jesus ever being called “the Abyss of Mercy.”
In my mind, the word “abyss” applied to that place where the legion of demons begged Jesus not to be thrown into (Luke 8:31) and where all the powers of darkness will end up (Revelation 20:3). That phrase which was applied to Jesus had my attention. The word “abyss” simply means “a seemingly bottomless chasm or something without end.”
The mercy of Jesus is without end! In the Holy Gospels, people spoke to Jesus in so many different ways. But every time someone cried out to Him from their heart with the words: “Lord have mercy,” He had mercy on them. The first words we hear from the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:22) were, “Have mercy on me, Lord,” and her daughter was healed. The same holds true to the 10 lepers (Lk 17) and they were all healed of leprosy. The blind beggar (Lk 18) could not be hushed up, but cried out louder and louder, “Jesus have mercy on me!” and he received his sight. A man knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord have mercy on my son!” and his son was healed (Mt 17).
This phrase is not some magic formula or a “genie in the bottle”. Rather it is when we call out to Jesus from our hearts, “Lord have mercy on me!” that we can be confident that He will have mercy on us. Jesus is our “High Priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. A Son who has been made perfect for ever. One who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 7:26-8:2). He is the only One Who can truly have mercy on us and we all need His mercy.
I have had people say to me, “God could never forgive me for the things I have done.” What utter nonsense! Saying this is making God out to be you. Jesus is the Abyss of Mercy and that means His mercy is without end. His mercy is not just about the forgiveness of our sins, but His mercy is available to us in our depression, our anxiety, our brokenness and broken relationships. His mercy is available to us every day in whatever we face that day.
“Lord have mercy” may be the most powerful prayer we can possibly utter from our hearts. May we keep in mind that Jesus is The Abyss of Mercy!