Blessed: The Meek - Matthew 5:1-2, 5
We are in the midst of hearing how Jesus takes the world and, if we truly heed His Words, have our world turned upside down, just as those who first heard His words.
We heard him say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who realize they are not self-sufficient. Blessed are those who realize that they are dependent not on themselves, but on God. Blessed are those who have let go trying to control their own lives and given complete control over to God. Blessed are those who realize just how impoverished they are without God’s grace in their lives. For those who are poor in spirit are already experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven…they are already in the midst of eternal life with God.”
We heard Jesus say, “Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who look at the pain and suffering in the world and weep for they will be comforted because God is going to come in and make everything right.”
How many are familiar with the saying “might makes right”? Does anyone know the origin of a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit, especially by those with the might? It dates back to at least 400 years before the birth of Christ to a Greek historian named Thucydides (Thou-ky-did-eez). His actual words were, “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”[i]
How about the phrase, “only the strong survive”? It carries behind it the same mentality that strength and power are the most important aspect in surviving and thriving. It has been offered up by many, among them Anne Frank in her diary, where she writes, “The weak die out and the strong will survive, and will live on forever.”[ii]
Both parallel another common philosophy along the same lines that many of us may recognize is the idea of “survival of the fittest.” Commonly associated with Charles Darwin, it is actually the thinking of Herbert Spencer after reading Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species.[iii]
All of these quotes lend themselves to the idea that what is good and right in the world, and the key to survival is physical and or military power. That is pretty close to the mindset of those in Jesus’ day when they were looking for the Messiah. They were tired of being trampled on by one empire after another. They had heard the prophecies of God’s Messiah who would come in and free them from their enemies and enable them to live out the promises of God that they would be a city on a hill, they would be the premiere nation of the earth, and all the nations of the world would look to them. Having been run over by all these empires and their armies, as they anticipated a savior, a messiah, a king, they anticipated someone who would come in commanding a massive army to rid the region of Rome and any other empire that would seek to rule over them. This is the kind of king the people expected, this is the kind of king the people wanted, and to be honest with ourselves it is the kind of leader most of us expect and want in our lives.
Jesus, in the midst of these expectations and desires comes in and says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Once again He has taken our expectations and desires and turned our world upside down. The meek? They are the ones who get picked on. They are the ones who get beat up. They are the ones who refuse to take up arms and fight. They are the ones who die. They are the ones who are weak, right? They are blessed? They will inherit the earth? We know better, they are more likely to be the ones six feet under a bunch of that earth.
Yet Jesus, as He turned the listener’s world upside down with His words, did more than talk the talk, He lived out this beatitude with His very life…and showed the world that true strength lies not in muscles and guns, but in living a humble, meek life. How many of us would dare call Jesus weak?
Jesus personified meekness. The King of Kings, who could have forced the wills of all He encountered, forcing them to bow before Him, knelt Himself to wash the grime from the feet of His disciples. The Lord of all Creation who could call down manna from the skies or turn stones into bread, fasted for forty days in order to focus His will upon the Father’s. The Master who could have let His servants defend Him while He quietly slipped away in the Garden of Gethsemane, commanded them to put away their swords while He healed the servant of one of His attackers. The Lord of Lords stood silently while accused and confronted by the earthly leaders of the Temple and government. The True Commander in Chief of legions of Heavenly warriors could have called them down to stand between himself and the centurions, yet He willingly stretched out His hands to receive the nails. The One with the power to still the storms could have called down lightening to strike everyone from Judas, to the Sanhedrin, to Pilate, to the soldiers, instead looked upon those responsible for crucifying Him and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
Who would call Jesus weak? Not me. Consider…
Which takes more strength?
…to force someone to bow to you, or to bend your knees and back to serve them?
…consume whatever your body craves, or deny yourself?
…to let someone fight to protect you while you run away, or stand and face your accusers, even if you know you are innocent?
…to run your mouth and make excuses for your behavior, to stand in silence in the face of accusations, especially lies?
…to strike out with fist, knife, or gun, or to willingly give up your life?
…to hold a grudge, or to forgive someone who has wronged you, especially when they do not show any remorse or regret or are even still actively wronging you?
What the world calls strength is the actually the weak, easy way out…the way of Christ, the way of meekness, requires far more strength.
The meek are those, like the poor in Spirit, who refuse to be arrogant, and realize that their value lies not in how much power, fame, or fortune they have, but their value lies in their relationship with God, and find their true strength there…and it is in the confidence of that relationship that they receive the promise that they will inherit the earth. Christ tells the meek, “you are truly blessed, because when God comes and makes everything right, when He restores His Creation to the way it is supposed to be, when He calls all before His Judgment Seat, you, who have voluntarily set aside your pride, your rights, your demands, and all that the world says you deserve, you are the ones that are assured a place in His Kingdom that day when He will descend and live among His people in a world that has been completely turned upside down.”
My brothers and sisters, let the world call us weak, for we know that in Him we are strong…let us be among the meek…so that, like the Israelites, who when they finally put their trust in God and not themselves and found entered the Promised Land, we will find ourselves as inheritors of the New Heaven and New Earth.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.