The Old Testament is the story of the first King, Adam who was to rule the world with peace and love because he was to walk with God. But, Adam sinned and the Old Testament ends with Malachi pronouncing, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4: 5, 6 The Old Testament ends with a curse hanging over the heads of humanity.
However, with the coming of Christ everything changes. In the Beatitudes we see the blessings of God towards all the people who will turn from their evil ways and trust in Him to save them. Instead of hope in a promise of restoration, the restoration is complete in Christ. We have seen so far that there is a blessing for those who are poor in spirit and those who mourn over the condition of their soul. Now we come to the third blessing of the Sermon on the Mount, a blessing to those who are meek. Jesus tells the disciples, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5: 5 We have seen that the word “blessed” has the idea of happy, like someone who has no troubles to worry about.
So many people in the world struggle for wealth, fame and fortune, but the beatitudes are a response to that way of thinking by pronouncing a blessing upon those who see God first. Jesus reminds us in Luke 12: 15 “And He said to them, ‘Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” Even Solomon in all his glory in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes could only write, “Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1: 2 Life is much more rich than simply seeking wealth and success.
Notice, it isn’t the bully, the pushy, the braggart, and the self-assured loudmouth who shall inherit the earth, instead it is the meek. John 18: 36 reads, “My Kingdom is not of this world, but my Kingdom is in the hearts of men.” God’s Kingdom and its blessings do not belong to people like the Pharisees and Sadducees; instead it belongs to the people who know that everything they are is because Jesus made it so. The meek understand that their power, their strength, their ambition, their righteousness and their works mean nothing in light of the gracious and wonderful blessings of God. Instead the meek come humbly before the Lord, as spiritual beggars knowing their salvation is the free unmerited gift of God.
How different is Jesus view of the world. While the Pharisees looked for a Messiah of power that would drive out the Romans from Judah and the zealots looked to their own power to drive the Romans out, Jesus offered the Kingdom to the meek. The word meek in classical literature is used by the doctor, sailor and farmer but in quite different ways. The doctor referred to meek as a soothing medicine that would take away pain while the sailor referred to meek as a cool breeze that refreshes. The farmer used it of an animal that is broke and therefore useful on the farm. John Wycliffe translated, “blessed are the meek,” as, “blessed are mild men.” The meek in some ways could be translated as blessed are the powerless for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. While powerless has the connotation of not being strong enough to accomplish something, it has a spiritual meaning as well. Blessed are the powerless to save themselves and instead rely upon the grace of God to save them.
The meek are the wise who understand that their salvation is never of their own power and strength, but instead is the love of God that took Jesus to the cross. And what more could we say about this verse than Frederick Nietzsche hated the verse while Mahatma Gandhi loved the verse. (Matthew 5: 5) For everyone who understands that his or her salvation is by grace, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.