"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Mt 5:5)
We’ve been talking about the Beatitudes Jesus taught on the Mount. We’ve covered the first 2 blessings thus far. The first blessing is given to “the poor in spirit.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3)
For us to be poor in spirit means that we realize our deep need for God. Those whose eyes are open to eternity are able to see their spiritual hunger and poverty. And it causes them to earnestly seek God out of their deep, desperate need for Him. They are blessed because they experience the presence of the kingdom of God in their lives that God gives to those who seek Him.
Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:4). The second blessing is given to those who grieve deeply. But the mourning Jesus talks about here is different from general sadness because this mourning is a spiritual grief that only believers may experience.
We talked about two different kinds of grief—one is personal, and the other is communal. Personal grief comes from the realization of one’s sin and repentance. It is to pray like the tax collector did, beating his breast and asking for God’s mercy.
The closer we get to God, the more clearly we see how sinful we are before Him. This spiritual realization makes us mourn for our sins. But this mourning is actually a great blessing because it brings confession and repentance, which lead us to Jesus Christ. When we humbly go before Him empty-handed, He will comfort us and fill our hearts with the joy of salvation. That’s the blessing we must all continue to seek and experience as Christians.
In the last sermon, we talked about the second type of blessed mourning. It’s communal grief. God wants us to mourn not only for ourselves, but for others, especially for those who don’t know Him and the good news of Jesus Christ yet.
This special kind of grieving is not an emotion that we can have on our own. This grieving heart for others is implanted in us when we join in God’s sorrow for His lost sheep.
When the Israelites were destroyed by Babylon because of their rebellion against God, God’s eyes overflowed with tears night and day without ceasing. He felt deeply sad when people turned away from Him and thus headed toward death. God mourned for them because He loved them so much.
And there was a prophet who joined in God’s sorrow—Jeremiah. He is called the weeping prophet because he participated in God’s sorrow and mourned for the people of Israel with Him. Out of his grieving heart, he continued to proclaim messages from God to the people of Israel even though it brought him insult and reproach.
The apostle Paul also had this kind of spiritual grief. Out of his grief, he never stopped warning Christians night and day with tears. That’s one of the common features God’s people who participate in His sorrow for His lost sheep have. They not only mourn, but also proclaim the message of repentance and reconciliation.
We also talked about the man of sorrow, who was acquainted with grief: Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus didn’t have to mourn for His sins because He was sinless. But He was called ‘a Man of sorrows’ because He mourned for sinners and for the world tainted by sin. And to rescue people who are heading to eternal death because of their sins, Jesus shed His precious blood on the cross and died for them. That’s the good news of Jesus Christ that we should preach to those around us out of the spiritual grief God gives to those who willingly join in His sorrow.
Blessed Are the Meek
All right. That was what we’ve talked about for the past few weeks, and today, we’ll move on to the third blessing. Let’s read Mt 5:5 together again. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Mt 5:5)
Jesus said that those who are meek are blessed to inherit the earth. Why is that? What is special about those who are meek that they are promised to inherit the earth?
The first thing we need to know is that the meekness the Bible talks about is different from general meekness. When we think about meek people, we normally come up with those who are quiet, calm, and kind. We often call people who aren't easily angered and have a lot of patience ‘meek’. That’s the meaning of ‘meek’ we generally use.
However, the meaning of meekness in the Bible is different. In Matthew 5:5, the original Greek word that’s translated as ‘meek’ is πραΰς (praus).
Even though this word can mean gentle, calm, and mild, praus is basically used to refer to those who are disciplined and thus able to control their instincts, impulses, temper, and emotions. This word is especially used to describe those who act wisely to people who underestimate them and treat them unfairly.
So, in the Bible, the meek are not those who are just good, kind, and slow to anger, but those who have been tamed by God’s will. Therefore, submission and obedience are key words in understanding the biblical meaning of meekness.
To help better understand the meaning of meekness, you might think about tamed horses. Meekness refers to a state in which untamed wild horses are gently tamed by their owners.
I’ve never ridden a horse before, but I’ve heard that it’s very hard and dangerous to ride a wild horse. When a horse trainer rides an untamed horse the first time, the horse gets very angry and jumps up and down hard, trying to throw off the rider. It’s dangerous even for skilled trainers.
However, as the trainer continues to tame the horse, it finally submits to the trainer and offers its back to the owner. Now the horse doesn’t go where he or she wants to go. It goes wherever the master wants to go.
This is the biblical meaning of meekness. It means that our rough and violent natures are disciplined and tamed so that we completely surrender our wills to God’s will and submit ourselves to Him. Biblically meek people don’t follow their own interests because they seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first in their lives. They don’t follow their emotions, but God’s will. What motivates their every action is how to glorify God and carry out His will in the world.
They crucify all the things of their old life, including their past temper, emotions, and sinful desires, with Jesus Christ. Because they know that they died with Him, they live as if they are born again in Jesus Christ.
By nature, human beings are prideful. We keep trying to deny the existence of the One who created us so that we ourselves can act like the masters of our lives. Our egos are so strong that we continue to hold fast to only our thoughts, wills, and plans, not God’s.
But, when we believe in Jesus, He starts to tame our thoughts, wills, tempers, and stubbornness so that we can admit God’s lordship over us and let Him be the Lord of our lives. We were like wild horses that were headed somewhere without clear direction, but we became tamed, mild horses running to the eternal kingdom of God where He is leading us.
I believe that’s what God wants all of us to be. He wants us to surrender every aspect of our lives, not just some of them, because only when we completely submit ourselves to Him, can He work in us and lead us to His green pasture where we can find true happiness.
We should know that God can’t work through wild horses. Even though God wants to lead us to a good pasture, we can’t go there if we continue to reject His guidance and run to a place which seems good to us, persisting in our own thoughts and ways.
Because God is good, He never forces us to do something. Rather, He is constantly waiting for the moment when we finally surrender our lives to Him and give Him control.
That’s what we must become. We should be like meek, tamed horses. Tamed horses don’t follow their own wills. They only run to where their owners lead them. Meek horses don’t control anything on their own—speed, direction, anything. They simply obey their owner's will, completely trusting in Him. They stop, go, and run according to what their owners say to them.
That’s the meekness we should try to have in our relationship with God. We should learn to obey Him in all circumstances and go wherever He guides us, trusting that His will and plans are always better than ours and that He never leads us where we shouldn’t go.
The word ‘praus’ which is translated as ‘meek’ is used four times in the New Testament. Jesus applies this word to Himself.
Jesus said in Mt 11:29-30,
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:29-30)
Here, ‘praus’ is translated as ‘gentle.’ There are a lot of words that describe who Jesus is, and πραεῖς, which means meekness or gentleness, is introduced as one of the important characteristics of Jesus.
Here, we see a close relationship between Jesus’ meekness and His humility. The meekest person is also the most humble person because we can’t really be tamed by God unless we humbly lay down our thoughts and wills, give up what we think is ours, and submit everything to God.
That’s why Jesus is considered to be the most humble and meekest man in the world. In His close relationship with God, He never insisted on His own ideas. He was never against God’s will. Everything He did was in God’s will and His plan.
Jesus once said,
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (Jn 5:19).
According to God’s will and His plan for the salvation of the whole world, Jesus abandoned all His glorious privileges as the Son of God and humbly came into the world in the form of human flesh. That’s the great example of meekness and gentleness that Jesus showed through His life, which we also must learn from Him.
There’s one more passage where the word ‘praus’ is used regarding who Jesus is. Matthew 21:5 says,
“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Mt 21:5)
Here, ‘praus’ is translated as ‘gentle.’ We also see the connection between Jesus’ humility and His gentleness or meekness.
Even though He came into the world as the King of kings, He humbly entered Jerusalem on a donkey. In fact, meekness is the key characteristic of His reign. He refused to use His political or physical power to build up His kingdom. The power He used to bring God’s reign on earth was the power of meekness, gentleness, and humility, which were clearly manifested on the cross.
Now, let’s read a passage that shows Jesus’ humility. Let’s read Philippians 2:5-8 together.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!” (Php 2:5-8)
Here, we see how meek and humble Jesus was. Because He was humble, He willingly laid down all His privileges and made Himself nothing to be like one of us. And because He was meek, he was always obedient to God, even to the point of dying on the cross. His meekness and humility brought us salvation.
We shouldn’t think that it was easier for Jesus to be crucified because He wasn’t a mere human being, but God. That’s not true.
He became a human like us. He knew the kind of pain He would have to go through on the cross. He knew that He would be separated from God’s presence and subject to His wrath there.
Jesus didn’t want to be crucified. Who would want to? He even prayed in the garden of Gethsemane:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me…” (Lk 22:42a).
He prayed so earnestly that his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. He wanted for the cup of the cross to be removed from him. That was Jesus’ will as a human. However, that wasn’t the end of His prayer.
Jesus continued to pray, “…Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Lk 22:42b).
I think this short but great prayer best describes what meekness and humility are. Jesus completely submitted His will under God’s will. He always humbly put God’s will first and was obedient to it. That’s the meekness and humility Jesus showed in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. That’s the meekness we should seek and take after.
Paul urges us to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus if we are Christians. We need to learn His gentleness and humility in our relationships with one another. Even now, Jesus is calling us to come near to Him, take on His yoke with Him, and learn from Him.
It may look hard to carry the cross and follow Jesus. We may have to give up our own ways for the kingdom of God. We should submit everything—our thoughts, desires, and preferences—before God’s will. We may suffer in this world when we adjust our lives to God’s will. We may have to sacrifice what we have.
That’s why it’s important to continue to remind ourselves of the blessing that we’ll have after we finish the good fight of faith.
It’s actually easy to take on Jesus’ yoke because when we carry our crosses, we’ll also see Jesus holding up them with us and for us. When we completely surrender our lives to Jesus, we’ll find true rest in Him that nothing in the world can give. And, at the end of this journey of faith, we’ll end up inheriting the kingdom of God, which will last forever.
I want everyone of us here to come near to Jesus so that we can learn His gentleness, meekness, and humility, and so that we can reflect who He is through our lives to those around us. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching us Your word today. Thank You for allowing us to learn the biblical meaning of meekness that Jesus taught on the Mount.
We want to be meek like Jesus. We want to be humble like Jesus. Please help us to lower ourselves before You and follow Your will for us, surrendering and submitting our whole lives to You.
We can’t do it alone. So, we ask that You send the Holy Spirit. Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit and Your power so that we can live out our faith in this world, reflecting who You are through our lives.
Let all our evil desires and sinful natures be crucified with Jesus Christ and please fill us with His holy image. Help us to be conformed to the image of Your Son. As we draw near to You, let us find true blessings and comfort in Him so that we can willingly and joyfully follow His steps, taking up our own crosses.
We love you, Lord. We pray in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
1. What areas of your life do you think are not yet tamed by God? What is the biggest obstacle that prevents you from submitting your life to Him? What can be some practical steps you can take to be meek and humble like Jesus?