THE MAIN MESSAGE OF JESUS. PART III by John Iuliano.
In a radical message preached on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 5,6,7), Jesus gives us the clearest definition of what is the Kingdom of God. This sermon is highlighted with eight blessings that are invoked upon people if they demonstrate particular attitudes. We often call these verses “The Beatitudes” but in calling them by this name, we can easily lose sight that these eight statements were in fact the eight core values of the Kingdom of God and the main message of Jesus. Let’s look on these values with fresh eyes. Today we will look at the third core value.
3. KINGDOM PEOPLE PERSIST IN DOING GOOD.
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5)
The discussion about this text will revolve around the word meek. The questions we must ask are, “What did Jesus mean by this word?” and “What did the people of the 1st century understand this word to mean?” Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates gives us some insight when he comments on the meaning of this word. He says that when Jesus was using this word, He was not referring merely to a person’s observed behaviour, nor his relationship to his fellow man nor his mere natural disposition. Rather, says Zodiates, “it is in an inwrought grace of the soul and the expressions of it are primarily toward God…..It is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.”
In other words, meekness is found in how we react to the dealings of God and the “stuff” that happens to us in life. Do we resist our challenges with frustration or accept them with grace? Do we fight all the way kicking and screaming or do we endue with patient persistence? Do we shake our fist at God or bow our knee faithfully declaring the goodness of God? First century people understood Jesus meant that meekness was a measure of how we react to the blows of life and the dealings of God.
21st Century Christians can easily interpret meekness as something akin to weakness, backing down, not wanting to rock the boat. Whereas what Jesus was saying is that it takes strength to be meek. It takes an inner grace of the soul to be kind and forgiving. Anyone can be gracious when everything is going well but what happens when your world collapses? Anyone can be kind when everyone is showing you kindness but what happens when you are confronted with hatred and injustice? In these times it is only the very strong that can respond with true meekness. Jesus was the chief role model when in the midst of His crucifixion He responded with these words, “Father forgive them.”
In quoting this passage, one must also refer to Psalm 37 as it most certainly was Ps37:11 that Jesus was thinking about when He quoted this beatitude. “But the meek shall inherit the earth.” This Psalm gives us a list of actions that refer to meekness. 1. They do not fret because of evildoers. (37:1a) 2. They aren’t envious over workers of iniquity. (37:1b) 3. They trust in the Lord and do good. (37:3a) 4. They feed on God’s faithfulness. (37:3b) 5. They delight themselves in the Lord. (37:4a) 6. They commit their ways to the Lord. (37:5a) 7. They rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. (37:7a) 8. They cease from anger and forsake wrath. (37:8a) 9. They delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (37:9b) The psalm continues to list other attributes of the meek making a clear promise in verse 23 that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”
Jesus then promises that these are the type of people who shall inherit the earth. It’s the meek not the arrogant that will one day be running the earth. This is the main message of Jesus. His Kingdom will come and when it does it is those who have absorbed Kingdom principles that will be elevated to positions of prominence. The very thing they are not looking for or chasing after or selling their soul for, will be delivered to them. The earth will be their inheritance. Jesus was trying to get us to understand that to be a Kingdom minded person we need right now to begin identifying and demonstrating attributes that come straight from Heaven.
By Ps John Iuliano. Used by permission.