Jesus taught that those who are meek will actually inherit the earth. What does this counter-cultural teaching mean? How does it relate to being humble and the reality that people are forced to be humble by those in power? This sermon explores these questions and then provides practical direction to embracing Jesus’ teaching.
In this sermon, Dan Kent addresses the meaning of how the meek are the heirs of the earth. He first explores the meaning of the word “meek.” There are two senses of this word. The first is proactive in nature, where one pursues meekness. The other sense is passive, one which happens to a person as a humiliated meekness. Dan then asks which of these two kinds of meekness Jesus is addressing in this passage, and he proposes that it is the second.
An understanding of meekness can be better understood when we examine Jesus’ teaching on humility in Matthew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” The humbling of self, which is proactive, is very different from being humbled, which is passive. In this passage, Jesus is emphasizing the proactive nature of humility. However, this could be applied in such a way that leads to a ditch of smallness, where we try to overcome pride through shame.
Instead, Jesus is promoting a humility that stands against both pride and shame, offering a way where a person can be confident about who they are while also being humble. Instead of viewing our relationship to others according to a contrast between superiority and inferiority, it is about seeing all as unsurpassably equal, as “brothers and sisters.”
With this in mind, we can better understand the meaning of meekness in the beatitudes. Jesus is not saying that those who embrace shame will inherit the earth. The meek are not those who loathe themselves. Instead, the meek are those who have been humiliated by a grossly ungodly world, those who have been oppressed by others and by systems. Jesus is bringing good news to those whose lives have been inundated by bad news.
This relates to Psalm 37:10-15. The good news is for those who have been abused by the wicked. The world operates under the delusion that some people are better than others, forcing people down under the thumb of the powerful. Jesus comes to upend this system.
The sermon closes by applying this view of humility in three ways. First, we are to live as heirs. The blessings of God are a gift, not that which is earned by conquerors. Secondly, we are free to profit off our weaknesses by embracing our brokenness. Third, seek to be known. We don’t have to propagandize ourselves; instead we can let our authentic selves be known.
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