Last Wednesday on Ash Wednesday, we considered Beatitudes #1 and #2. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” And “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Now today we add #3, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”
ALL FLOW FROM 1ST BEATITUDE
One of the things that becomes more and more clear as we continue down this list of blessings, is that it is the first Beatitude that sets the stage for the others. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Everything that follows is simply what life in the Kingdom of Heaven is all about.
It’s like, the 1st beatitude is the tree and the others are the branches that grow from it.
FUTURE VS. PRESENT TENSE
One of the ways that we can see this is just in the way that the blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven is set in the PRESENT TENSE, whereas the others are all set in the FUTURE TENSE. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The blessing of life in the Kingdom of Heaven is ours NOW. NOW we are forgiven all of our sins. NOW we are baptized into Christ. NOW we have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to give and strengthen faith and obedience. NOW we have the true body and blood of Jesus given to us in the Lord’s Supper. NOW we enjoy the fellowship of the Communion of Saints.
All of this belongs to us NOW even while we are poor in spirit NOW.
But now we notice that all of the other Beatitudes are set in the FUTURE TENSE. “Blessed are those who mourn for they WILL be comforted.” “Blessed are the meek, for they WILL inherit the earth.” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they WILL be satisfied.”
And on it goes, until we get to the 8th Beatitude which once again is about the Kingdom of Heaven. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.”
NOT ABLE TO FULLY REALIZE
So, what’s the difference between blessings that are bestowed upon us in the PRESENT vs. those that have a FUTURE aspect to them? Could it be that the FUTURE blessings are the ones that even though they are ours NOW, we are NOT YET able to FULLY REALIZE?
So, even though the Kingdom of Heaven is ours NOW, and we are right with God and He has reconciled us to Himself in Christ and made us His own children, we still have the experience of MOURNING.
Even though Christ has conquered death and taken away all of our sin, we still feel the pain of death and still feel the guilt of sin. Christ’s victory is complete, but we’re not yet able to FULLY REALIZE it, yet.
And that’s because, even though the Kingdom of Heaven is NOW, in the present, SIN AND EVIL are also still NOW, in the present. The GREAT SEPARATION hasn’t happened yet. The Kingdom of Heaven operates simultaneously within the Kingdom of Hell.
And so the same people who are BLESSED with the Kingdom of Heaven and live under the reign of God’s love, ALSO live in the Kingdom of Hell and under the reign of sin and evil. Not only the sin and evil OUT THERE but the sin and evil IN HERE as well.
And so, MOURNING is still very much a part of the reality of our life. We still MOURN our sin. We MOURN our thanklessness; our short memory of God has done for us; our living as if none of it really mattered.
And we mourn for others too. So many are either oblivious to the blessing that God offers in Jesus, or who, like us, forsake the incredible blessing we’ve been given.
So, MOURNING really becomes a sign of faith. Unbelievers doesn’t mourn their sin and the death it brings. But believers do.
There this verse in Ezekiel, 9:4, that reads, “And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” The Israelites who GRIEVE over Israel’s spiritual depravity, are marked to be BLESSED.
Jesus says, “they WILL be comforted.” That’s FUTURE TENSE. The promised comfort is NOT YET. At least, not like it will be when it is perfect, complete. Any comfort that we have NOW is just a shadow of the comfort that we WILL have.
When Jesus comes again, He’ll do His great work of SEPARATING what is currently mingled together. He will separate the Kingdom of Heaven from the Kingdom of Hell and the one will have nothing to do anymore with the other. And those who MOURN WILL BE COMFORTED.
In the meantime, that is, in the PRESENT, we are blessed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls “the Comforter.” The One who walks along side of us, pointing us to the COMFORT of the Crucified One.
This is what the word HOPE is all about. Hope is always FUTURE TENSE. In the PRESENT, we live by faith, which is always weak. But we look forward to that day when there’s no more PAST or FUTURE and everything we’ve been hoping for is NOW.
As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “For now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (2 Corinthians 13:12).
The 3rd Beatitude follows right in line with this. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Let’s think about the word ‘meek.’ Another word for ‘meek’ is ‘lowly.’ It’s the word that Jesus uses to describe Himself. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and LOWLY IN HEART. And you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29).
When Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the donkey, Matthew describes it as the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, “Behold your king comes to you, HUMBLE and mounted on a donkey.” (Mat.21:5).
Last week we said that someone who is ‘poor in spirit,’ is lacking in the ‘fruits of the Spirit.’ But now, having been blessed with the Kingdom of Heaven, we see these fruits of the Spirit taking shape in him – particularly “meekness”.
MEEK IS NOT POWERLESS
To be ‘meek’ or ‘lowly’ does NOT mean that we are ‘powerless.’ Jesus says that He is ‘meek’ and ‘lowly’ and yet we know that He is ‘almighty,’ ‘all-powerful.’
It’s just that He doesn’t operate from a position of ‘power.’ Jesus once said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12).
That’s the way of the world, but NOT the way of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Pilate asks Jesus why He doesn’t defend Himself. And Jesus replies that He could call down a legion of angels from heaven to fight for him. But that’s not the way He accomplishes His goal.
He is willing to be taken advantage of and abused rather than exercise the power that is rightfully His.
Jesus is taken by force. But He never brings anyone into His Kingdom by force. He comes to us in the ‘meekness of His suffering,’ and the ‘lowliness of His cross.’ And as strange as it may sound to us, this is ‘power of God unto salvation.’ (Romans 1:16)
We, on the other hand, are truly powerless before God. We can’t ‘force’ ourselves into His Kingdom or ‘force’ Him to give us what we want.
“Meek” and “lowly” is who we are before God. If we possess any power at all in the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s His power that He gives to us – the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us to believe the gospel and trust in God.
EFFECT ON OUR REALTIONSHIP WITH OTHERS
Who we are before God has a direct influence on who we are with one another. Paul writes to the Colossians saying that “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved we are to “put on” various attributes of our Lord, one of which is ‘meekness.’ (Col. 3:12).
Peter says that we are to “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with ‘meekness’ and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF
Of course what this means is that our ‘meekness’ and ‘lowliness’ may well be mistaken by some as being ‘weak’ and ‘vulnerable.’ And because sin and evil are at work in the world, we, like or Lord, may be taken advantage of and even treated poorly.
Okay. So be it. We know how things will turn out in the end. “Blessed are the meek, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.”
THE BLESSING OF INHERITANCE
At first, this may not sound like much of a ‘blessing.’ Why would we want this ‘earth’ as our ‘inheritance?’ Maybe we always thought that the blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven meant that we would eventually leave this earth behind and move into heaven.
So, obviously the ‘earth’ that Jesus says we WILL, FUTURE TENSE inherit is the ‘new earth’ that is everything that He created this planet to be, and redeemed it by His blood to be.
What Jesus promises the ‘blessed’ is the fulfillment of what we heard the Psalmist promise. “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” (Psalm 37:11) “Abundant peace” is obviously not the way anyone would describe this planet.
When He comes again for the great SEPARATION, this earth that is anything but “abundant peace,” will become just that.
I like what Dietrich Bonhoeffer has to say about this in his “Cost of Discipleship.” “God does not forsake the earth; he made it and he sent His son to it, an on it he built his Church. Thus a beginning has already been made in this present age. A sign has been given. The powerless have here and now received a plot of earth, for they have the Church and its fellowship, its goods, its brothers and sisters, in the midst of persecutions even to the length of the cross. The renewal of the earth begins at Golgotha, where the meek One died, and from thense it will spread. When the kingdom finally comes, the meek shall possess the earth.”
Sin and evil may run rampant for a season. And people try to gain control and rule this earth by power and force. And the “meek” children of God get caught in the crossfire. The wheels of justice may turn slowly. Wrongs done to us may not ever be righted in our earthly lifetime.
But in the end, everything gets turned around IN A GREAT REVERSAL and it is the “meek” of God who will come out on top.
And in that HOPE, we are COMFORTED.