Summary: Jesus wasn’t focusing on outward performance like going to church, giving, or serving. His concern was to mark out how a disciple should be on the inside.
When’s the last time you heard someone say, “If you want to succeed in life, try being meek?” Or, “If you want to rise to the top and get somewhere in life, display meekness along the way?” Unfortunately, meekness isn’t a valued quality in our day. The world’s philosophy of success says be assertive / aggressive and go for the throat! Do whatever is necessary to come out ahead. But that isn’t what Jesus said.
For the third week now we are focusing on the beatitudes that Jesus says we are to have in order to be kingdom citizens. Jesus wasn’t focusing on outward performance like going to church, giving, or serving. His concern was to mark out how a disciple should be on the inside.
Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount so that his Father would get the glory for the way the disciples lived. The purpose of the Sermon on the Mount is to inform God’s disciples of the qualities they are to possess and display to a watching world.
This PM, we’re going to look at the next attitude Jesus says is necessary to be a Christ-follower – meekness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
In the movie The Passion of the Christ, Jesus modeled meekness. At Gethsemane when the soldiers came to arrest him – Jesus showed meekness. During the courts of Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas, through the scourging and walk to Golgotha, up to the moment He breathed His last breathe – Jesus modeled power under control.
It’s vital we clarify what meekness is because some people equate meekness with weakness, but that couldn’t be further from Jesus’ mind. In fact, if you were to tell someone they were meek, I’m not sure they’d take that as a compliment.
If you were to look at a thesaurus it wouldn’t help matters as the typical synonyms for meekness include – docile, mild, tame, soft, passive and spineless. It’s no wonder we don’t want to be called meek. But when Jesus used the term, He was speaking of something completely different. And since this characteristic is part of Jesus’ definition of a disciple, I think that it is in our best interest that we understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the meek…”
Meek was used with four completely different meanings in the N.T.
1. In the Greek culture, meekness was considered a virtue that was balanced between too much and too little anger. The meek man was neither timid nor given to fits of rage.
2. Greek physicians used the word to describe a soothing medicine. If too little was given, it wouldn’t work; but if too much was prescribed, it could hurt instead of heal. Yet if the proper amount was offered, then it could work wonders. Given a meek amount.
3. Meek was also used to describe a gentle breeze blowing in from the ocean. Wind can rage and do great damage but when it blows gently, it brings soothing comfort.
4. The most common use of meekness describes a wild stallion that had been tamed. The broken horse was powerful, but his power was under the control of a bridle.
The common thread in these images is that meekness represents different forms of power that can be used for good. Meekness is power harnessed for good.
Yet when you put this statement into the context of Jesus’ setting, the people probably scratched their heads in wonder. They likely thought, “Didn’t Jesus just mention that the kingdom of heaven was near?” If the kingdom is coming, then don’t we need to get ready to fight the Romans?
Let’s not forget, the story of Jesus falls within the framework of a nation in bondage to Rome. While the Jews believed the Messiah was coming, most thought He was coming to deliver them from their physical oppressor and not their spiritual condition.
They eagerly anticipated that the Messiah would deal gently with them and harshly with their enemies. So when Jesus came on the scene they got excited because they believed the Messiah had come and that He would commend them for their goodness and would, at last, give the Jewish people their rightful place in the world — a position above all other people, because they were God’s chosen people.
But God’s plan wasn’t focused on the temporary but on the eternal. So when Jesus started talking the way He did in the Sermon on the Mount, you can imagine their reaction. They hated Him because He disappointed them and didn’t fulfill their expectations. Then to introduce meekness in a time of oppression was the last thing on their minds.
Our society isn’t much different from the one in Jesus’ day. We too focus on the temporary and shake our fist at Jesus because He isn’t serving our expectations or desires. But He is God – and you’re not! If meekness is power under control, then the first area it must address is one’s character.