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“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" - Matthew 5:5

Athletes live their lives under the watchful eye of the public. Not only are their athletic abilities constantly scrutinized, but their character is as well. Their behavior on and off the playing field reveals whether they are a team player or selfish. It reveals whether they are arrogant or humble. It’s rare to see an athlete responding to their victories with meekness, a kind of gentleness that comes from not having a high sense of self-importance.[1]

Imagine a linebacker who helps everyone he ever tackles back onto their feet, or a wide receiver who, instead of showboating after scoring a touchdown, simply hands the football to the referee and trots over to his quarterback to praise his passing abilities. While it is rare to find a victor who is not overly impressed by a sense of their own self-importance, meekness is commonly seen in those who have suffered defeat. Some have meekness forced upon them. This is seen in an athlete who suffers a loss after a noble effort and must endure sounds of taunting from his opponents and jeers from the crowd as he walks back to the locker room with his head hanging low. The third beatitude speaks of this kind of meekness, a form of humility that only comes from being humiliated.

The Meek’s Inheritance

Of course, Jesus was not talking to athletes when he announced that the meek are blessed. Like the previous two beatitudes, he was giving words of comfort to those who had heeded the call for repentance and were waiting in eager anticipation for the kingdom of God. At this point in his sermon, he had already pronounced that God would act compassionately toward those who were utterly dependent upon him and who mourned at all that was wrong with the world and with themselves.

But with this beatitude, he proclaimed that God would bless the meek with a future inheritance of the earth. This echoes Psalm 37, which encouraged the righteous poor to patiently wait for God to judge their wicked oppressors and bring them into their inheritance of the land. Such a promise would have resonated with Jesus’ original audience. When first-century Jews living under both Roman occupation and hypocritical religious leadership heard Jesus refer to Psalm 37, they would have been filled with hope that the promises made in that Psalm would be fulfilled in the kingdom which Jesus declared to be close at hand.

The Humility of the Repentant

While Jesus’ words would have stirred the hopes of many, only the repentant would participate in the promises he made. It is not uncommon for even hardened sinners to be humbled by the circumstances of life. However, the repentant have a unique humility before God. They know their place in the world. Being poor in spirit, they have abandoned any attempt to be their own authority. Instead, they eagerly take their place under God’s rule and care, living in dependence upon him.[2] They not only mourn because of injustice that inevitability occurs at the hands of depraved humanity, but also the consequences of their own sin.

In the previous two beatitudes, Jesus promised the repentant that they would eventually enter the kingdom of heaven where they would find their ultimate comfort. The third beatitude builds upon these promises. The repentant can expect to be humbled as they suffer as victims or distraught witnesses of injustice. However, because they have also humbled themselves before God, they can hope in the promise of a future day when he consummates his kingdom over a renewed creation, where they will share in God’s rule over that new earth.[3]

Hope for the Meek

Today, many believers have experienced injustice that has humbled them, leaving them with a sense of helplessness and longing for God’s kingdom. While others rarely, if ever, suffer at the hands of injustice, we all are humbled by the feeling of powerlessness that comes when confronted by the list of seemingly insurmountable problems that come from living as fallen people in a fallen world.

Yet, when the world causes us to bow our head in despair, we are not without hope, for we have already bowed our knees before an almighty God. We kneel humbly before our king, longing for him to establish his everlasting kingdom upon the earth and we know that a time is coming when all will be made right, and the world will be as it should be. We have a beautiful inheritance, a new creation where our heavenly Father will reign in perfect righteousness. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Thi


Footnotes

[1] πραΰς, translated as “meek” in Matt. 5:5, can be defined as “pertaining to not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek”. See BDAG, s.v. “πραΰς.”

[2] The meekness described in Matt. 5:5 and Psalm 37:11 is fundamentally an attitude one has before the Lord and is closely related to the poverty of spirit spoken in Matt. 5:3’s reference to Isa. 61:1. See Charles Quarles, Sermon on the Mount: Restoring Christ’s Message to the Modern Church.

[3] Some would suggest that the land spoken of is the promised land of Israel. However, the eschatological context and Matthew’s use of γῆ would suggest that inheriting the earth “refers to possessing and living in a recreated earth over which Christ rules eternally.” See Quarles, Sermon on the Mount.

Ron Allen grew up in Southwest Wisconsin and graduated from Emmaus Bible College in 2021. He is currently pursuing a ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Posted by Ron Allen

Ron Allen grew up in Southwest Wisconsin and graduated from Emmaus Bible College in 2021. He is currently pursuing a ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary.

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