As we walk through the Beatitudes, we see the progression of Jesus’ teaching:
Poor in spirit (v. 3) -> mourning over our sin (v. 4) -> meekness (v. 5)
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
(Matthew 5:5 NIV)
The term “meek” is often misunderstood and mis-interpreted as “weak”. So what does it really mean?
Meekness actually means “power under control”. Think of a 6 foot 5 inch, 300 pound professional football player on his hands and knees, gently helping his baby girl learn to stand and keep her balance. Think of a dam across a river, holding back millions and millions of gallons of water from rushing down through a valley and wiping out everything in its path, protecting the little towns and villages in its shadow and providing a constant supply of water the year around.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his sermon on this verse, lists five attributes of meekness:
- humble (not proud or self-absorbed)
- gentle (not harsh or domineering)
- patient (not short-tempered)
- forgiving (of ourselves and others)
- contented (not always striving for more; enjoying what God has provided)
When we come to Christ, and we see ourselves and our indwelling sin nature in light of God’s perfection, we mourn over our sins, and God comes alongside us and comforts us. As we receive his comfort, our mourning subsides, and we quietly sit at Jesus feet, satisfied just to be in His presence.
When I think about this transformation from our former selves to our new selves in Christ, I am reminded of the transformation of the demon-possessed man of Gerasanes in Luke chapter 8. He was completely out of control – the townspeople had chained him up, but he simply broke the chains; he lived in the caves outside of town, literally naked, wild, and insane.
But when this man came in contact with Jesus, he was forgiven, healed, and restored to civilization. Luke records it this way: “When they [the townspeople] came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind…” (v. 35, bracketed text mine).
So what is Jesus’ promise of meekness? Inheriting the earth.
This promise was in stark contrast to both the Romans (physical rulers) and Pharisees (spiritual rulers) of Jesus’ day. Both of these groups wanted to control and manipulate the Jews, keeping them under subjection.
Jesus offers to free our souls from the tyrant of sin, to give us freedom, and inheriting joy and rest and margin with the Lord, that all the earth cannot contain.
Later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus makes His offer again:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
Will we come humbly before the Lord, and accept His offer?