February 22 Lent Devotional

The Meek
February 22, 2021
By Pastor Lesly Broadbent

Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Something that needs to be addressed at the outset of studying these Beatitudes is the very nature of the beatitudes.  The beatitudes are not exhortations.  Jesus does not say “Be poor in spirit,” or “be mournful,” or “be meek.”  No.  These are blessings instead.  These are present and future indicatives.  Listen to these verbs, “Blessed are ….  They shall be.”  These words of Jesus’ are radical precisely because they are not commands, not exhortations, not encouragements to become blessed.  They are instead, statements of the world turned upside down where those who mourn are comforted rather than abandoned or merely pitied, where those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied, not ignored or shouted down, where the meek inherit the earth rather than being ground into the dust. The beatitudes are statements of facts.  These types of people are blessed by God.

This is important to remember as we turn to our Beatitude this week.  Listen to what the great 20th century Methodist preacher Elsworth Kalas says in his book entitled “Beatitudes from the Backside.”

“So how can Jesus say ‘Happy are the meek’?  It’s a bit like saying, ‘Happy are the downtrodden,’ or the ‘subjugated’ – except that the downtrodden and the subjugated may still have a protest in their soul, so that no matter what their condition, they retain some inner dignity.  But the meek?  Not only are they afflicted and downtrodden, they seem to embrace such a condition.  I see no heroism here.” (Kalas, Beatitudes From the Backside, p. 36-37)

William Barclay, the great 20th century theologian and commentator, called meekness “the most untranslatable of words.”  To be sure this word has been misunderstood and misused throughout the past 100 years.  Whereas it once was used to describe the gentle, courteous, and kind, it now describes the easily imposed on, the submissive, the timid.  And that’s not something any of us want to be.  We don’t want to be known as weak, dispassionate, and bland.
But for Jesus to say these types of people will inherit the earth is absurd.  They may inherit heaven, but surely not the earth.  They are too weak, too passive, to submissive to take the earth unless it’s the part the rest of the people (the real achievers) don’t want.

We are either misunderstanding what Jesus is saying or Jesus is wrong.  I tend to think it’s the former.
So, what thoughts first come your mind when Jesus speaks of meekness?  If you were going to inherit the earth (or take it by force), how would you start?  With meekness or with power?  With kindness or with might?  With gentleness or with influence?  So how do you go about obtaining your piece of the earth (success, possessions, money, relationships)?  With meekness or power, kindness or might, gentleness or influence?
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