Meekness and majesty (02-04-21)
When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. (Mark 11. 7 - 11)
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
(Mark 11. 15 - 17)
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. (Mark 15: 1 - 5)
As we recall once more the events of Holy Week, I am struck particularly by the meekness and majesty of Jesus. These words are skilfully juxtaposed in Graham Kendrick’s hymn: Meekness and majesty. The hymn also speaks of other contradictions: ‘manhood and deity’, ‘suffering to give life’, ‘conquering through sacrifice’, ‘and as they crucify, prays “Father, forgive”.’
Thanks to the words of other well-known hymns, we tend to think of ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’. We so often see meekness in terms of weakness and majesty in terms of power, but here we see something quite different in the behaviour of Jesus. Although meek does mean gentle, quiet and compliant, it means much more.
Meek implies humility, not a sign of weakness, but more a depth of character and true self-awareness. According to the dictionary, meek means humbly patient, enduring injury with patience and without resentment. It is long-suffering and demonstrates great self-control, both fruit of the Holy Spirit, strength under control a bit like a carthorse pulling a plough.
Throughout Holy Week, Jesus is always in control of his actions responding with an unnerving, unpretentious authority. From the moment, he rides into Jerusalem in humility on a young donkey, it is obvious he is a man on a mission. He accepts the praise and honour of the crowd with a quiet dignity, but it is already clear that he is creating unease at the same time. The following day he turns over the tables of the money changers in the temple, reclaiming this centre of worship as a house of prayer, hardly a sign of weakness, but of passion and commitment to his raison d’être. And today, we remember Jesus on trial, standing before the chief priests, the Sanhedrin and Pilate, the Roman Governor. He unnerves them all, because all the way through, he oozes this combined meekness and majesty, innocence and obedience to the will of his Heavenly Father. The events of the rest of Holy Week gain momentum, the outcome is unstoppable, but in the end, the ‘Lord of infinity, stooping so tenderly, lifts our humanity to the heights of his throne’ through his death, his burial and his resurrection.
Lord of infinity, give us eyes to see and minds to understand more of your meekness and majesty as we journey with you to the place of resurrection and hope. Amen.
Meekness and Majesty by Graham Kendrick