By Rev. Juliet Schimpf
- Matthew was writing primarily for the Jews
- The whole story of Jesus falls within the framework of a nation in bondage to Rome.
- In 63 B.C., A little over a half century before Jesus was born, Pompi had annexed Palestine for Rome. And thus Jewish independence came to an end. And that independence had been gained in a blood bath revolution called the Maccabean Revolution. And they had fought to be free from Greece. And it wasn’t very long that they knew that freedom until they were under the bondage of the imperial power of Rome.
- From 63 B.C. on, the land was ruled partly through Herodian kings. They were a family of kings appointed by Caesar.
- The Jews despised this Roman oppression. In fact, they wouldn’t even admit it. When Jesus was talking to them in John 8, talking to the Jewish leaders, he said: “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” And they answered, “We are Abram’s seed and were never in bondage to any man.” They wouldn’t even admit it that they were slaves to Rome.
- The Jewish group knows as the “ZEALOTS” were looking for a Messiah to overthrow Rome. They were looking for a great General who could set up a Jewish revolution that would bring about independence by military action.
- The “PHARISEES” were equally anxious to overthrow Rome; only they weren’t looking for a military kingdom, they were looking for a holy commonwealth. They were looking for a restoration of the Old Testament theocracy.
- BUT failed to see that Jesus came as a suffering servant. Isaiah 40-66—this whole section presents the Messiah as a suffering servant.
- When Jesus declared who He really was, He quoted from Isaiah 61. In Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…To heal the brokenhearted…To preach deliverance to the captives….To give sight to the blind…To set at liberty them that are bruised.”
- We have glamorized vice and minimized virtue. We have played down gentleness, manners, and morals—while we have played up rudeness, savagery, and vice. We have reverted to the barbaric era of ‘tooth and claw,’ ‘the survival of the fittest,’ and the philosophy of ‘might is right.’ We are rich in knowledge but poor in wisdom; rich in the know-how of war but sadly lacking in gentleness, meekness, and faith.
- BILLY GRAHAM: “We say, ‘Happy are the clever, for they shall inherit the admiration of their friends’; ‘Happy are the aggressive, for they shall inherit prosperity’; ‘Happy are the talented, for they shall inherit a career’; Happy are the rich, for they shall inherit a world of friends and a house full of modern gadgets.”
- 2 Timothy 3 [GODLESSNESS IN THE LAST DAYS] 1”But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
1. MEEKNESS: A RESPONSE TO A HOLY GOD
- MEEKNESS: A RESPONSE TO A HOLY GOD
- John MacArthur: “Meekness is different from being broken in spirit, though the root word is the same…Broken in spirit focuses on my sinfulness. Meekness focuses on God’s holiness. In other words, I am poor in spirit because I am a sinner, and meek because God is so holy in comparison. Two sides of the same coin.”
- It is important to note that in the beatitudes “the meek” come between those who “mourn over sin” and those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness.”
- John MacArthur: “Broken in spirit is negative and results in mourning. Meekness is positive and results in seeking righteousness. That’s the beauty of the sequence, of the progression in the Sermon on the Mount. First, there’s the brokenness, the tremendous sense of sinfulness. But there is no despair because you begin to see the other side of it. You see a holy God and begin to hunger after His holiness.”
- G.K. Chesterton: “What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place…A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt—the Divine Reason…We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”
- The Hebrew word for meek is “anaw”, and it mainly deals with a man’s attitude toward God.
- “Anaw” describes the man, who in loving and obedient humility accepts the guidance of God, and who never grows resentful and bitter about anything which life may bring to him.
- It is the quiet certainty that God is always working all things together for good.
- It describes the man who gives to God the perfect trust, the perfect obedience, and the perfect submission.
- It is the attitude of Job when he said: “The lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)
- It is not so much the blessing of the man who is self-controlled, for such complete self-control is beyond human capacity; rather, it is the blessing of the man who is completely God-controlled.
- GALATIONS 5:22-23 “The fruit of the spirit is gentleness, goodness…meekness.”
- MEEKNESS: THE BLISS OF THE DISCIPLINED SELF
- GREEK word for “meek” is praus
- The word praus had two standard Greek meanings:
- 1. It is used to describe an animal which has been tamed and domesticated, and which has been trained to obey the word of command, which has learned to answer to the reins.
- It is the word for an animal which has learned to accept control. It is, for instance, used of a horse which has been broken in and which has become obedient of the reins.
- So a possible translation of this beatitude is:
- Blessed is the man who has every instinct, every impulse,
- 2. Aristotle defined meekness, praus, as the mean between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness. As Aristotle saw it, meekness is the happy medium between too much and too little anger
- so a possible translation of the beatitude is:
- “Blessed is the man who is always angry at the right time, and never angry at the wrong time.”
- This type of self-mastery is critical for leaders, for only when a person has hastened himself is he able to rule others.
- PROVERBS 13:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”
- JOHN MACARTHUR: “Meekness is a gentleness and a mildness and a subdued character, but it is not weakness. It is power under control.”
- It is a by-product of self-emptying, of self-humiliation, of brokenness before God. It is the taming of the lion. [So] meekness does not mean impotence.
- It is the virtue of the man who acts with gentleness, when he has it in his power to act with stern severity.
- It is used of a king who might have exercised vengeance on a rebellious people, but who treated them with kindliness.
- It is said also that if you place a straw parallel with the Gulf Stream, the Gulf Stream will flow through the straw.
- Meekness is a man placing his will in line with the will of God and saying, “O God, flow through me and make me strong.”
- It is Moses (described as very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth—Numbers 12:3) standing before Pharaoh the king and saying “Let my people go.”
- It is Jesus before Pilate, saying with his silence, “Stop me if you can.”
- It is Peter and John standing before the Jerusalem police, saying “We must obey God rather than man.”
- It is Martin Luther, defying the pope and saying to his princes, “Here I stand.”
- It is John Knox in Scotland pounding his pulpit in St. Giles, and putting Mary Stuart the queen in her place.
- So meekness turns out to be not weakness, but strength.
- MEEKNESS: A TRUE VIEW OF ONESELF
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones: “Meekness is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others. It is therefore two things. It is my attitude towards myself; and it is an expression of that in my relationship to others.”
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones: “You see how inevitably it follows being ‘poor in spirit’ and ‘mourning’. A man can never be meek unless he is poor in spirit. A man can never be meek unless he has seen himself as a vile sinner. These other things must come first.”
- 1. Dr. Lloyd-Jones: “But when I have that true view of myself in terms of poverty of spirit, and mourning because of my sinfulness, I am led on to see that there must be an absence of pride. The meek man is not proud of himself; he does not in any sense glory in himself. He feels that there is nothing in himself of which he can boast.”
- [NEW LIVING TRANSLATION] 5 “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”
- 2. Dr. Lloyd-Jones: “It also means that he does not assert himself. You see, it is a negation of the popular psychology of the day which says ‘assert yourself’, ‘express yourself’. The meek man does not want to do so; he is so ashamed of it.”
- 3. Dr. Lloyd-Jones: “Likewise, the meek man does not demand anything for himself. He does not take all his rights as claims. He does not make demands for his position, his privileges, his possessions, his status in life.”
2: 3”Do nothing out
of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others
better than yourselves…Your attitude should be the same as that of
Christ Jesus: 6Who,
being in very nature[a] God, did not
consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
- 4. Lloyd-Jones: “The man who is meek is not even sensitive about himself; he is not always watching himself and his own interests. He is not always on the defensive. We spend the whole of our lives watching ourselves…Is it not one of the greatest curses in life as a result of the fall—this sensitivity about self?... But when a man becomes meek he has finished with all that; he no longer worries about himself and what other people say. To be truly meek means we no longer protect ourselves, because we see there is nothing worth defending. So we are not on the defensive; all that is gone.”
- 5. complete absence of the spirit of retaliation
- Christ, is described as “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29)
- MATTHEW 21:5 “See, your king comes to you, gentle [meek] and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
- In 1 Peter, we’re told that when Christ was reviled, “He did not revile in return; while, suffering, He uttered not threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
- Forbearance and patience
- What does this mean? Well, it’s not a promise that the children of God can own oil wells, or blocks of downtown Manhattan, or orchards in southern California.
- This Beatitude is a direct quotation of Psalm 37:11, and so we will begin with the Old Testament meaning of “inheriting the earth”
- “inherit the land”
- Originally, this verse had to do with the entering of the children of Israel into the promised land.
- God had promised Abraham that he would give him the promised land to inherit it (Genesis 15:7)
- With the coming of Jesus Christ, this Beatitude acquires a new width.
- For Christians, this verse means more than the possession of any territory upon earth.
- MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: “The meek already inherit the earth in this life, in this way. A man who is truly meek is a man who is always satisfied; he is a man who is already content.”
- [THE MESSAGE] 5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.”
- PAUL 2 CORINTHIANS 6:10 “having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
- JOHN 18:36 “My Kingdom is not of this world…”
- PHILLIPIANS 3:20 “our citizenship is in heaven…”
- What Christ means here is that when you enter the kingdom, you come into the original inheritance of dominion over the earth that God gave to Adam.
- It’s paradise regained. The people in the kingdom shall inherit the earth.
- GEORGE MCDONALD: “We cannot see the world as God means it in the future. Safe as our souls are characterized by meekness. In meekness only are we its inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual retina pure to receive God’s things as they are mingling with them neither imperfection not impurity.”
- This Beatitude is one of the paradoxical sayings of Jesus; that is, one of the sayings that seems self-contradictory. Meek people shall inherit the earth?
- One would have expected the opposite. One would think that ‘meek’ people get nowhere because everybody ignores them or else rides roughshod over them and tramples them underfoot. It is the tough, the overbearing who succeed in the struggle for existence; weaklings go to the wall. Even the children of Israel had to fight for their inheritance, although the Lord their God gave them the promised land. But the condition on which we enter our spiritual inheritance in Christ is not might but meekness.