Today marks the 600th anniversary of the martyrdom of John Huss, one of my favorite heroes of the Christian faith. I wrote of his dauntless death of Day 27 of Gospel Meditations for the Hurting, and I post it in his honor and for Christ's glory today.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” — Luke 18:38
On July 6, 1415, John Huss was tied to a stake and surrounded by wood and straw. As rector of the University of Prague, he had been influenced by John Wycliffe’s evangelical teaching and would in turn be a forerunner of the reformers of the following century and of the missionary-minded Moravians. However, his gospel preaching earned him only condemnation as a heretic. Asked by the Roman Catholic Council of Constance to recant of his errors, the undaunted Huss replied as follows:
"What errors shall I renounce? I know myself guilty of none. I call God to witness that all that I have written and preached has been with the view of rescuing souls from sin and perdition; and, therefore, most joyfully will I confirm with my blood that truth which I have written and preached."
As the pyre was lit, Huss met the flames with a song. His dying prayer was a quotation of Luke 18:38: “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mankind had no mercy. The Lord Jesus certainly did, welcoming the valiant gospel preacher to paradise.
Huss’s final words were a repetition of a request by a blind man in Jericho. The blind man’s cry for help was met with rebuke from pitiless men (v. 39a). Undeterred by those who would hush him, he cried out all the more: “Son of David, have mercy on me” (v. 39b). Our Lord—whose compassion is magnified in juxtaposition to the crowd’s harshness—stopped, listened to the man, and granted his request for sight (vv. 41-42). Imagine the scene as the man uses his remade eyes to look on and follow Christ; hear him glorifying God; see the crowd as it shifts from criticism to praise (v. 43). And learn this lesson well: our Savior delights in mercy.
I suggest that you add that prayer to your repertoire. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Repeat it often, and urgently, and thoughtfully: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” When you’re weary, ask for mercy. When you’re suffocating under life’s pressures, ask for mercy. When you’re tempted to sin, ask for mercy. When you’ve fallen into sin again, for the umpteenth time, ask for mercy.
Know that you are praying to Jesus, who Himself is a man of sorrows who is acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Know that, further, He has borne your griefs and carried your sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). Know that He wept for the rebellious and the bereaved (Luke 19:41-44; John 11:33-35). Know that He is so gentle that He doesn’t break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick (Matthew 12:20, quoting Isaiah 42:3). Know that He is gentle and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29). Know that He has suffered temptation Himself and thus can sympathize with your weaknesses, responding to your cries for help with mercy and grace (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).
In every distress, I have no better counsel for the hurting than this: Run to Christ.
I run to Christ when chased by fear and find a refuge sure.
"Believe in me," His voice I hear; His words and wounds secure.
I run to Christ when torn by grief and find abundant peace.
"I too had tears," He gently speaks; thus joy and sorrow meet.
I run to Christ when worn by life and find my soul refreshed.
"Come unto Me," He calls through strife; fatigue gives way to rest.
I run to Christ when vexed by hell and find a mighty arm.
"The Devil flees," the Scriptures tell; he roars, but cannot harm.
I run to Christ when stalked by sin and find a sure escape.
"Deliver me," I cry to Him; temptation yields to grace.
I run to Christ when plagued by shame and find my one defense.
"I bore God’s wrath," He pleads my case—my Advocate and Friend.
Let the gospel embolden you to cry out to Jesus the Son of David for mercy.
Chris is the pastor of Killian Hill Baptist Church near Atlanta, GA. He was the founding pastor of Tri-County Bible Church in Madison, OH. He writes hymns and devotionals through ChurchWorksMedia.com and preaches at Bible conferences around the United States. He and his wife Lori have four lovely daughters.