This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (John coming soon.)
The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ – Assignment for Matthew 5
“1. Christ has officially begun His ministry here. His ministry is a part of His purpose, His goals, and is the set up to His eventual Atonement. Keep this in mind as we study His teachings. See if you can find how the Savior’s teachings fit into the Atonement, plan of Salvation, and your life, personally.
2. Each thing Christ has taught in this chapter, He has modeled Himself. He is the Exemplar. You may consider studying some of these qualities and finding instances where Christ exemplifies them. For example: poor in spirit. Find a time when Christ was poor in spirit. How can you follow His behavior in your own life?” – New Testament Study Companion: Matthew
Today, I’m studying the next of the beatitudes…
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Meekness is a concept that has always been a little bit “foggy” for me to understand. In our society, meekness doesn’t seem to be that great of a quality to have. Yet, Christ, ever counter to conventional customs, tells us that being meek is a blessing.
In the footnotes to Matthew 5:5, we learn the following about meekness: “GR: Gentle, forgiving, or benevolent; the Heb in Psalms 37:11 characterizes as the humble those who have suffered.”
I went ahead and also looked up the scripture in Psalms:
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” – Psalms 37:11
I don’t know Hebrew, nor can I read this scripture in Hebrew, but when you read this entire verse in English, I suppose that you could infer something – the lives of the meek are full of suffering and difficulty. However, later, they will inherit the earth and an abundance of peace.
Christ, obviously, is gentle, forgiving, and benevolent. In a way, I also think that meekness implies mindfulness. I suppose that this comes from the concept of Him being “gentle.”
The dictionary definition of Meek is “humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.”
Christ perfectly models meekness throughout His life. Specifically, while performing the Atonement, He models meekness during His trial after suffering in the Garden and before being crucified. Christ meekly went before Herod.
Think about it – Christ was the literal heir to the throne. Christ should have been King. Christ was of the lineage of David, and had Israel not been under Roman rule, then Christ would have been king. Herod and his family knew that they were not really meant to be rulers of the Jews, but because of their relationship with the Romans, they wielded power. They did a lot to keep this power in their family: they were interested in power, not righteousness.
Yet Christ, ever so meek, didn’t get frustrated that He wasn’t ruling as He ought to have been. Instead, he went before Herod and bore the trial with dignity. We read of this experience in Luke:
“And when herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him.”
“Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.”
“And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.
“And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.” – Luke 23:8-11
I have always found this exchange profoundly interesting. First of all, Herod is glad to see Jesus. That seems like a good thing, right? However, we learn why – he wanted to see a miracle done by Christ. It was as if Herod thought Christ was some kind of circus freak or magician. Herod wanted to see Christ the same way some people might want to see David Copperfield or The Great Houdini.
Herod didn’t want to see Christ because he had faith in Him. He didn’t want to learn of Christ or be healed by Christ. Herod wanted to see Christ perform.
The Savior understood this. Though He was meek, He also wasn’t interested in being a circus act. This would be a disgrace to Himself and to His Father. He understood how His power worked and the sacred nature of faith and miracles.
So, when Christ comes to Herod, he meekly submitted to the will of His Father, and He didn’t perform a single miracle for Herod. Neither did He say a single word to Herod or the Priests questioning Him. (This always reminds me of the maxim: If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. – A relatively meek attitude, if you ask me!)
Instead of performing for the King, instead of justifying Himself to the Priests, Christ was meek: like a lamb brought to the slaughter. The difference being Christ knew exactly what would happen to Him – where a sheep is naive to his eventual fate.
Inherit the Earth
So, we have determined that Christ was meek. The promise for such meekness is to “inherit the earth.”
Interestingly enough, that is exactly what happened to Christ. Because Christ performed the Atonement – including being judged and dying at the hands of wicked King Herod and the wicked priests – He overcame death and hell. He was resurrected. He ascended to His Father in Glory. Because of this astounding work He did, Christ inherited the earth.
AND, Christ’s supreme act of meekness enables us to inherit the earth as well. Without Him, we would have no chance at any kind of inheritance.
We can learn from Christ’s example and apply it in our own lives. We can meekly and gently accept the trials that we face (according to God’s will, of course). We don’t have to be fake about them, either–Christ had nothing to say to Herod. Meekness isn’t a pretended attitude. Meekness, in the context of Matthew 5, doesn’t mean that we are submissive to everyone who crosses our path. We don’t have to meekly submit to wickedness. Meekness means understanding our relationship with God and then humbly submitting to Him.
And, the really great thing is, God doesn’t expect us to submit completely blindly. For example, Christ knew that He would be judged, He knew He would be killed. He also knew that He would be resurrected. We can trust in God’s will for us – remembering that ultimately, His work is our immortality and eternal life. (See Moses 1:39.)
Finally, can remember that we know the outcome of our decision to be meek: We will inherit the earth! Though meekness may, at times, seem risky; and though meekness may even have a seemingly bad immediate consequence, we need to remember the bigger picture. We need to remember that God blesses the meek – they will inherit the earth.
Not a bad deal!
How have you come to understand meekness? What do you do to develop meekness in your life? What does it mean to you to know that the meek will inherit the earth?