Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
When it comes to the third of Jesus’ beatitudes, I think it’s helpful to keep this in mind: For many who were following and listening to Jesus, they had it in their mind that their expected messiah would be sent from heaven for the primary purpose of acting as a political and military.
See, at the time of Jesus’ ministry, Israel was under the heavy-handed occupation of Rome. They had been under Roman rule for about 70 years! And after all this time, most of the people in Israel were getting sick and tired of Rome being in mixed up in all of their business.
They thought, “Surely God will send a Messiah to once again provide us with independence and autonomy.”
On top of that, much of Israel’s religious practice was rooted in pride and self-righteousness.
People put a lot of effort into pious displays of religiosity, while at the same time, giving very little attention to their heart. Which in turn affected their attitudes…which in turn affected their actions.
Essentially, the general, overall thinking among the populace of Israel was that when the Messiah came, he’d be especially tough on the Romans…and extremely easy on them, because, hey, they were so good!
The picture people had of the coming Messiah was one of power and force and aggression.
So, for those who might have had an inkling that maybe, perhaps this Jesus WAS the messiah…imagine the surprise and confusion (and maybe even a bit of disappointment) when Jesus uttered His 3rd beatitude:
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Many people look at the word meek, and right away associate it with a word that rhymes with meek: weak!
If we we’re trying to paraphrase this verse in our own words, we might think that Jesus was saying, “Blessed are the wimpy!”
But, knowing what we know about Jesus, we know that weak and wimpy are not words that can be applied to Him, and we can safely assume that’s not what he’s calling us to either.
So then, what does it mean when the Bible speaks of being “meek?”
Here are a few thoughts:
When the Bible uses the word “meek” here in Matthew 5:4, it draws from a word that describes the process of breaking a wild horse (which really serves no helpful human purpose) to the point that the horse can be ridden and employed to perform various productive tasks.
Think about it: the horse hasn’t lost any of its strength, but rather it’s strength has been brought under control so that it might become useful!
AW Tozer said this:
The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself.
He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels.
As one man said of the one who is meek, “In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto.”
I believe the expression of meekness in a human being can be marked by a combination of things like:
- Peace Seeking
What we see here on this list has nothing to do with weakness, but everything to do with great power.
Truth be told, isn’t it a real blessing to be in the company of a person marked by meekness? They are people who aren’t overly aggressive, or vengeful, or proud, or out-of-control!
Yet, this kind of person is very hard to find.
That’s because we live in a world where people are:
- very aggressive
- extremely vengeful
- filled with pride
- ridiculously out-of-control
And in some cases, these types of negative qualities are celebrated!
Many people go through life burning all sorts of energy…
- defending their rights
- justifying their ways
- serving their own ends.
But those who are meek seek to pour their energy into understanding and submitting to God’s providence, rather than always striving and pushing ahead for themselves.