By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
Jesus of Nazareth sat on a little hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee and spoke some surprising Kingdom principles. That discourse is recorded in Matthew 5 and is known as the Sermon on the Mount. He first spoke about the poor in spirit. He called for them to recognize that they are poverty-stricken, helpless, and hopeless without God. He invited them to hear His claim of Lordship over their lives. And He compelled them to respond by faith to His message of forgiveness and salvation. He desired that they, just as all of us today, give our hearts and lives to Him as Savior, Lord, and Master.
Jesus then drew attention to those who would mourn. He challenged them to become fully aware of the consequences of sin. He asked them to see the horror and devastating effects of sin—and mourn! He desired that they, as all of humanity, grieve, weep and cry out to God in sorrow over sin and rebellion. He called them to repentance and promised them forgiveness, cleansing, and reconciliation. He promised them a new, everlasting relationship built upon grace, mercy, and love, rather than good works or keeping the law.
The Lord continued as He spoke about a third “Kingdom” principle. He pronounced that those who are meek, humble, and gentle, will inherit the earth. “Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) What a startling statement to hear for all of those listening who had experienced the ravages of oppression and occupation. They had seen the harsh, inhuman treatment of the Roman soldiers. We, too, have witnessed the horrors of unrestrained evil in these past months through the pictures coming out of the country of Ukraine. Jesus’ listeners knew it first hand. They had labored under the strict, weighty expectations of the law placed upon them by their own religious leaders. They had suffered from abuses and injustices perpetrated by the power structures of their own civil and religious societies, as well as the occupying Romans. They knew that gnawing sense of helplessness and hopelessness and most had become downcast and downtrodden, looking for peace and deliverance.
Suddenly, and with great authority, Jesus declared that those who are gentle and meek will inherit the earth. That sounds preposterous, unthinkable, unreasonable, and just plain ridiculous! After all, doesn’t human reason and history tell us that it’s the go-getters and the over-ambitious who inherit most of what’s around them? But Jesus insists that in His Father’s Kingdom, it won’t be like the world around them. He declares that those who are meek and gentle will inherit the world.
To really understand what Jesus means it is necessary to look at the deeper meaning of the Greek word Jesus used in this statement. It is praeis (πραεΐσ). That word is the classical Greek word which is translated as “meekness.” But it just so happens to be the very same word that was used to describe war horses. Yes, you heard that right—war horses. The Hebrews had seen the Roman war horses all around them. They knew of their power and ruggedness. The writers of the YouVersion devotional, “Salt and Shiny,” point out, “These horses were born and bred for military purposes and so were always battle-ready and very powerful. In addition to this raw strength, they were highly trained and extremely obedient.”
It is important to note that associated with the whole idea of “meekness” is an underlying foundation of strength, training, obedience, and power. Loosely translated, the kind of meekness that Jesus is teaching about is “power under control.”
The meek are not the weak or cowardly of this world. They are those who place their simple, yet deep and profound trust in the Lord and His goodness and mercy. They are those, says Dr. Frank Stagg (The Broadman Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 105), “who under the pressures of life have learned to bend their wills and to set aside their own notions as they stand before the greatness and grace of God…They are characterized by humble trust rather than arrogant independence.”
Don’t you see! The world has got it wrong! The world is trying to rely upon its own strength, wisdom, and power—and that cannot stand before Almighty, Holy, Omnipotent, and Sovereign God! Only those who stand before the Lord as servants of the Most High God will truly inherit all of the heavenly blessings and promises of God. And that can only be accomplished through humble, childlike faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Meekness isn’t weakness! Meekness isn’t fragility or lacking of strength. The mind, heart, and character of meekness are all about the kind of faith and strength that comes in recognizing that: we are children of God; that He cares for us; that we are totally dependent upon His mercy and grace; and that we have all of His power and authority available to us in order to accomplish His plans and purposes. We also have the strength of discipline that allows us to respond in love; rather than in anger or fear.
Jesus, the Son of God, was declaring that those who practiced these “Kingdom” principles would be supremely blessed. They would have the Spirit of the Lord fall upon them and they would experience the fullness of the Lord’s grace, mercy, and love. They would inherit the fullness of God’s blessings—both here on earth and in eternity. Blessed are the praeis, for they will inherit the earth! Amen!
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.
Read more from Dr. Hodges here.