Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said…
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:1-2,5)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
"Say to Daughter Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" (Matthew 21:5)
If you were told someone was meek, what sort of an image would it conjure up in your mind? My guess is that it would be someone who is quite weak, passive, and easily imposed on. Is this the person, I wonder, that Jesus was describing when he said, ‘Blessed are the meek’?
The original Greek word translated ‘meek’ is ‘praus’ and is translated as ‘gentle’ when Jesus uses it to describe himself as ‘gentle and humble of heart’ and later when he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and Matthew sees him as fulfilling the prophecy 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey’. I doubt we would want to describe Jesus as weak, passive and easily imposed on.
The understanding behind the Greek word ‘praus’ though, is not weakness, passivity and easily imposed on, but power brought under control or harnessed, rather like a wild horse that has been tamed to be ridden. Another image might be a hydroelectric dam harnessing the power of water for the benefit of a town’s electricity, but also capable of great devastation if it is suddenly breached.
This image of power brought under control seems to fit better with Almighty God, who gave up his power and his glory in order to be born a baby, live as a man and die on a cross for us all.
The implication for Christians then, is that Jesus is effectively saying ‘Blessed are those whose strength is channelled for God’s service’.
What are your strengths? Have you found ways to channel them in the service of God? Are there ways in which God might be asking you, in meekness, to use your strengths to serve someone today?
Think of someone who exercises ‘power under control’ in God's’ service, or in the service of other people. Thank God for them now and ask that they may know his blessings today.
Pray also for anyone you are aware of who use their power destructively. Ask that God would bring their strength under control for the good of others.
Meekness and majesty