A reflection on Matthew 5:5 for Sunday, February 20, 2022 at Mosaic Baptist Church.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Matthew 5:5 (NRSVA)
Inheritance seems to – inherently – speak of those with connection to those who have.
If I were to claim that I expected to inherit – say, money, land, a cat, or a heritage motorcycle – you would rightly assume that I had a close connection to someone who owned said inheritance.
It makes Jesus’ claim to know who will ‘inherit the earth’ all the more intriguing. Here is a claim to know who owns the earth – and who this one intends to give it to!
Surprisingly, it is to the ‘meek’. Not the proud. Not those who have already proven worthy of the much they already possess.
God is looking to entrust everything to the humble.
Of course, this says a lot about God and the kingdom Jesus proclaims. We might be tempted to think of God as proud, easily offended or angered, maybe even aloof. Many have fostered the idea that the creator of everything is disturbingly detached from, and indifferent to, life on earth.
Yet the claim that Jesus represents God as no other radically turns this idea on its head. Born and raised in relative anonymity, an apprentice tradesman from the forgettable backstreets of nowhere-Nazareth, no home to speak of, habitually teaching in the wilderness rather than the centres of power, a life of unpaid service to the marginalised and disabled, misunderstood, threatened, prone to collect followers with embarrassing pasts. Jesus looked so common that even at the height of his fame the powers that be had to bribe an associate to ensure they arrested the right man!
Jesus, for one who claimed to perfectly represent God, was disarmingly humble.
And this is to say nothing of the way he willingly died the undignified death of a common criminal. Even here, this was an act of trust in – and reliance on – another. Jesus humbly went to the cross trusting that God would raise him.
Meek. Trusting. Humble.
The Apostle Paul summed it up in a quote from what we believe may be the earliest church hymn:
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!
This is a picture not just of a humble Jesus – but of a humble God. This is anything but proud, offended, angry, and aloof. Try humble, gracious, patient, and present!
All this is vitally important for us to grasp if we are to claim to be learning to follow Jesus. Here is a path of humility – not pride and arrogance. We are learning to love and serve rather than approach the world with indifference and an expectation that we could demand the obedience of others.
I guess God knows how destructive pride can be. If there is any future for the earth, it will have to be inherited by those who have embraced another way.
The way of Jesus would suggest a path that – strangely (and perhaps offensively) – looks a lot like meekness.
Perhaps this path looks dangerous in a world where pride is rewarded. It is. Jesus life – and death – clearly affirm this. His God-initiated, plan-revealing, resurrection, however, would indicate that it is the very path of the one who created (and owns ) the earth – and everything in it.
And if that is the case – the path of humility is the only one that is aligned with reality.
When do you find humility challenging? When do you find it easy?
How does you understanding of reality change if God is radically humble?