Continuing with his statements that seem to defy how the world operates, Jesus tells His audience that:
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)
In a world that purports personal agency and assertion of individual rights for individual gain, Jesus asserts something radically different. He declares that it is the meek, defined by Merriam-Webster as those who are “enduring injury with patience and without resentment” or “not violent”, who will inherit the earth. Is it true that unassertive people are the biggest winners in God’s economy? Is Jesus calling us to be non-violent and long-suffering people?
Let’s begin with a clarification that meekness isn’t a call to weakness, though outwardly they may appear to be the same. So then, what’s the primary difference between the two?
Those who are weak are those who have no power at all. But those who are meek are those who possess power and strength, yet chooses to control it and endures the pain and humiliation caused especially by the sinfulness of other people. And more often than not, the one who exercises self-control and patience in the midst of these troubles, does so because they have set their eyes on a greater goal or prize. And as we will see later on, biblical meekness is an exercising of resilience under the active and deliberate submission of our will to God’s will.
When we examine the life of Jesus, we see that Christ lived a totally perfect life, and so we may also look to his perfect example of meekness as the ultimate model of true meekness.
There are at least two ways that meekness manifested itself in Jesus’ life. Firstly, Jesus committed the entirety of his being, his will (John 6:38), his words (John 12:49-50), his love (John 15:10) and ultimately his life (John 19:30) to the fulfillment of God’s plan. In meekness, Jesus submitted his way to God and everything he did on earth was to fulfill God’s grand plan, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44).
Another example is Jesus’ prayer shortly before his arrest, where instead of asserting his complete authority over heaven and earth he prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) submitting to God’s plan.
And when one of his followers struck his enemy with the sword during his arrest, Jesus commanded him to put his sword away saying, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53-54). Though Jesus had the divine power to eradicate his enemies, he chose not to retaliate but rather he recognised the task that his Father had given him in bringing salvation to the whole world, so that God’s Word might be fulfilled and that His will would be accomplished.
Likewise we too have been called to be active participants of God’s plan, for “this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). This example left to us by Christ is to, in meekness, submit ourselves to God and seek the fulfillment of His plan.
Secondly, Jesus shows meekness by exercising great humility throughout his life on earth. Despite the many miracles and the authority from which Jesus spoke, he never boasted in himself. In fact, despite being in very nature God, he didn’t lord it over his people but humbled himself and took on the nature of a servant (Philippians 2:6-11).
If the One through whom the whole world has been created does not boast in himself, on what grounds do we have for boasting? Rather, like Jesus who “for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2), we too can have a joy greater than one grounded in our self-promotion. It is a joy grounded in God and in His invitation to declare His praise to all the nations.
Finally, what does it mean that they will inherit the earth?
This beatitude can be read as a confirmation of promises given in Psalms 37, specifically verse 11: “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (Psalms 37:11). A literal reading would imply that the meek would become heirs to this world, the one which we currently reside in.
However, God has promised us much more than just this broken world, instead saying “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” (1 Corinthians 3:22)
Isn’t this amazing? That God through Christ has given us everything, more than we can ever dare hope or dream. So, brothers and sisters, I pray that this may encourage you to exercise Christ-centred meekness to our world.