“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"
Jesus probably defines blessing much different than you or I do. As we approach our third week together in these Beatitudes, Jesus’ statements of blessing, this is clear. The picture of blessing Jesus is painting for us is very different than the photos we see on social media with the hashtag #blessed. Jesus is teaching us that those who are blessed—fortunate, truly happy—aren’t who we might expect.
In this series, we are approaching the beatitudes as eight characteristics of a blessed community. This section functions as a mirror for us to allow God to examine us, shape us, convict us and change us by His Spirit to more fully reflect who we are in Jesus and how we live.
This is early in Jesus’ ministry in the book of Matthew. He has been proclaiming the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven has come close, and calling people to repent, or change their minds about God, and turn to Him. In Jesus, already in the first four chapters of Matthew, we have a healer, miracle-worker, and now, as we focus in on chapter 5, a teacher.
But Jesus wasn’t only a teacher. These words will not carry the full weight if we only see Him this way. This sermon is delivered by the Word of God who became human.
Good News for the Lowly
The word “meek” means humble, gentle, mild. In scripture, there’s a close relationship between humility and meekness.
In the Old Testament, this is usually in reference to the oppressed or those who have been brought low, humiliated. These are not people who are tweeting with #blessed. These are not the folks in charge. If inheriting the earth is going to happen, it certainly hasn’t happened yet. So this statement is good news to those in this type of social position. But it isn’t limited to them. Meekness is more than a social position. However, those who have been made lowly, who may have had no choice in the matter, those who have been oppressed or enslaved may better understand meekness, and be closer to the position of these blessed people who Jesus says will inherit the earth.
People at the fringes of respectable society were often included in Jesus ministry. He spent time with them. While his disciples argued about who was greatest, Jesus was pulling children from the crowd as an example of those who are “greatest in the kingdom.” (Matthew 18:4)
A Quiet Strength
This statement (Matthew 5:5) seems to be a direct quote from Psalm 37. This psalm gives us a more vivid picture of what meekness looks like.
Meekness isn’t passivity. It’s not sitting around and letting people walk on you. Meekness is active trust in the Lord, taking delight in the Lord, committing your way to the Lord, and trusting Him to act! Trusting his justice, his vindication, and his ultimate victory. It can mean waiting, being still, being patient, refraining from anger, avoiding fret. But it’s not passive or weak. It’s a quiet strength and confidence that knows and trusts in God.
SERVING IN Relationship
Meekness isn’t something that can happen in isolation. It speaks to our interactions with others. Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones says “Meekness is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others…”
While being poor in spirit is first an internal disposition, meekness is expressed in community. Meekness grows out of that poorness of spirit, and is a logical step after the mournful recognition of sin. Lloyd-Jones continues, “The man who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.”
Jesus said he didn’t come to be served, but to serve. (Matthew 20:28) He calls His followers to take the same posture in their interactions with others.
Power Under Control
What about those with power, control, authority? Is meekness out of reach? “Meek” is used to describe both Moses (Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (Matthew 11:29). Moses, who stood before Pharaoh and demanded, “Let my people go.” Moses, who led multitudes from slavery to freedom. And yet, is said to be more meek than all the people on the face of the earth. Jesus calls himself “meek (humble, gentle) and lowly in heart.” The same Jesus who stood toe to toe with Pilate, a powerful Roman official, both before and after a beating, poised. Both of these men weren’t timid or fearful, but displayed power under control. Power not leveraged for self, but for others. (Philippians 2)
A Kingdom Already and Not Yet
Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth. This was not the present reality for those sitting with him that day, or for us. What does this mean? This Kingdom Jesus is talking about is both “already” and “not yet.” We believe that the ultimate reality of this kingdom is a new Heaven and New Earth. The Kingdom has already come to us, in Christ, but the completion and fullness of the Kingdom is still yet to come.
As Jesus is speaking, the system around them is based on domination of the strong, those who rule by force, and those who asserted their authority by violence. People of the Kingdom, those who follow Jesus, will inherit the earth in a very different way. But they will inherit the earth.
By the power of the Spirit, may our faith community be marked by meekness!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?