Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”
After calling us to mourn, Jesus now calls us to meekness, but what is meekness? Meekness is often a misunderstood word in our world, may mistake meekness for weakness. In fact if you were to complement someone on being meek they would probably not receive it as a compliment. If you look up meekness in a thesaurus you will find a list of synonyms that aren’t very flattering. Words like mild, docile, timid, tame, passive and even soft and spineless. It’s no wonder people don’t want to be called meek, especially men, because many of us don’t see meek as masculine. Yet Jesus describes meekness as the definition of a disciple, so what did He mean when He called us to model meekness? The word “meek” was used in many different contexts, and when taken together they paint a portrait of what meekness really means, and how we as Disciples of Christ can model meekness. Greek culture considered meekness a virtue not a vice, one that was the balanced between too much or too little anger. The meek man was neither timid nor given to tirades. Greek physicians used the word “meek” in describe a healing medicine. Too much medicine and it could harm instead of heal, too little and it would be ineffective, yet the right amount works wonders. “Meek” was also used in describing the weather, specifically a gentle breeze that blew in from the ocean. Unlike wild winds which rage and destroy, a gentle wind brought comfort and relief. It was also a word which was commonly used to describe a wild stallion which had been broken. Even though it was now tame it still had tremendous power, yet it was now power that was now under control. Meek does not mean weak; in fact these word pictures paint a portrait of power not a puny one. They remind us that without meekness power becomes destructive instead of constructive. The meek man is the one who is in control, whose strength of spirit, passions, and power have been harnessed. Yet even with this clear picture of meekness, the people that Jesus was preaching to would probably still have been a bit puzzled. For the message that Jesus preached prior in Matthew 4:17 was: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” Many in the crowd would have interpreted this message not as a warning but as one of war that they needed to get ready to rumble with the Romans. They would have been confused when he then called them to display meekness, power under control. Today we struggle with the same issues; we also tend to swing the pendulum between wimp and full out war. But Christ is not calling us to conquer people but sinful passions. So what does meekness look like in the life of a man? To answer this I want us to look at both a New Testament example as well as and Old Testament one. Starting with the New and then working back in the Bible let’s look at the life of the Lord, specifically the end of His life. As Jesus comes to the cross there are two words that describe His life, compassion and control. Despite the critics Jesus never lost His cool, despite the beatings He didn’t blow up, despite the lies He didn’t lash out. Even when Judas betrayed him with a kiss, and Peter lost control and loped the ear of the soldier, Jesus remained calm and in control. In the midst of the conflict Jesus demonstrated care and compassion. He used His power to heal and not to hurt as he miraculously reattached the man’s ear. Jesus didn’t just preach about power under control He practiced it. After telling them to put their swords away He said in Matthew 26:53: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” A Roman legion could contain as many as 6,000, so Jesus was talking about an angelic army of 72,000. All He had to do was say the word and the soldiers would be smoked, in fact all of Rome would have been left in ruin, yet He refrained. Despite the betrayal and arrest Jesus remained calm and collected, even during His trial with Pilate, He displayed power under control by keeping silent. It was Jesus demeanor that disarmed Pilate, when in John 19:9-10, because of His silence Pilate asked “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’” Jesus finally replied in verse 11: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Jesus was calm because He knew that God was in control, meekness is tied to our trust of the master. Jesus chose to be quiet when He could have complained; He exhibited control when He could have extinguished the evildoers. Jesus modeled meekness and now calls us to follow Him. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus calls us to come to Him and rest, for our Master is meek: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.[c] 30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Our second meek man is found in the Old Testament. Numbers 12:3 identifies Moses as being “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” When I think of Moses I don’t automatically put him in the “meek man” category. I picture him as the loose cannon, the one that lost it and killed the Egyptian task master in a fit of rage. The one who stood up to Pharaoh, leading the Israelites through the Red Sea, the one who climbed Mount Sinai to meet with God. Yet when we look closer we see a man of calm and control. In Numbers 12:1 we learn that Moses had married a Cushite woman which Aaron and Miriam openly criticized him for. In verse 2, we find Aaron and Miriam challenging Moses’ leadership and calling into question his qualifications by saying, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t He also spoken through us?” Now the end of verse 2 tells us a critical piece of information: “And the Lord heard this.” As a result all three were called to come and meet with God, verse 4 says: “At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, ‘Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you.’” It is here that God vindicated Moses but turned Miriam white with leprosy. While this is happening Moses is doing nothing, he is not defending or shouting, the scriptures just simply says that he was meek. It’s not until verse 13 that we here his first recorded words on the subject, which is a cry of compassion. Moses first words are to petition God to heal Miriam. Moses didn’t fight back, he didn’t seek revenge, he didn’t argue, but kept silent and let the Lord take up his cause. When he did finally speak up it was to intercede for the one who had challenged and chastised him. A meek man refrains from revenge. The meek man can absorb adversity and keep cool under criticism without resorting to retaliation. A meek man is not a weak man; on the contrary, he is a mighty man, one in control because his confidence is in Christ. What about you how well are you modeling meekness?