Blessed Are The Meek: Meaning and Significance of Matthew 5:5
- Dale Chamberlain Christianity.com Contributing Writer
- Updated Sep 18, 2019
Matthew 5:5 - Popular Translations
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." - King James Version
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." - New International Version
"Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth." - Common English Bible
"God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth." - New Living Translation
Meaning of "Blessed are the Meek" in this Verse
Blessed are the meek. The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to his word and to his rod, who follow his directions, and comply with his designs, and are gentle towards all men (Tit. 3:2 ); who can bear provocation without being inflamed by it; are either silent, or return a soft answer; and who can show their displeasure when there is occasion for it, without being transported into any indecencies; who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of any thing else.
They are the meek, who are rarely and hardly provoked, but quickly and easily pacified; and who would rather forgive twenty injuries than revenge one, having the rule of their own spirits.These meek ones are here represented as happy, even in this world. They are blessed, for they are like the blessed Jesus, in that wherein particularly they are to learn of him, ch. 11:29 . They are like the blessed God himself, who is Lord of his anger, and in whom fury is not. They are blessed, for they have the most comfortable, undisturbed enjoyment of themselves, their friends, their God; they are fit for any relation, and condition, any company; fit to live, and fit to die. They shall inherit the earth; it is quoted from Ps. 37:11 , and it is almost the only express temporal promise in all the New Testament. Not that they shall always have much of the earth, much less that they shall be put off with that only; but this branch of godliness has, in a special manner, the promise of life that now is.
Meekness, however ridiculed and run down, has a real tendency to promote our health, wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. The meek and quiet are observed to live the most easy lives, compared with the froward and turbulent. Or, They shall inherit the land (so it may be read), the land of Canaan, a type of heaven. So that all the blessedness of heaven above, and all the blessings of earth beneath, are the portion of the meek. They that hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy, (Matthew Henry Commentary)
7 Examples that Jesus Loves (and Blessed!) the Meek
1. The event of Jesus’ birth was less than spectacular.
Every Christmas, we celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth. And we love to make a production out of it. For some of our churches, quite literally a theatrical production!
But the thing about it is that Jesus came into the world without any fanfare. Jesus was born in the home of family and loved ones. There was no room in the privacy of the upper room (sometimes unfortunately translated as inn), so Jesus was born on the main floor of the home, and placed in a manger. Working class families typically brought their animals into the house for the night to sleep, so a feeding trough was handy, and made for a convenient baby crib.
The thing about this scene is that is was virtually identical to the circumstances of many other births in the region at the time. In other words, Jesus’ story likely wouldn’t have been interesting enough to feature on the ten o’clock news. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. And you probably wouldn’t care. The King of Kings was not born in a palace, but under some of the most ordinary circumstances possible.
2. The first people to recognize Jesus as the Messiah were the least influential people in the community.
On the night that Jesus was born, a group of angels came to announce the incredible occasion. That makes perfect sense to me. People needed to know! What makes less sense is who they selected to announce it to.
The angels didn’t go to the leaders of the city. They didn’t go to the popular people in the neighborhood. They went to the shepherds in the field. And here’s the thing about shepherds: no one in the community respected them. They were undereducated. They were seen as not particularly skilled or important to society. They were often old men or young boys. Not exactly the decision makers of society. Yet these are the people whom God felt should be the first to know that God had just become human to dwell among us. It was to these “nobodies” that the good news was first told.
3. Jesus’ family wasn’t rich or famous.
Not only was Jesus born without fanfare, his entire childhood was lived without it. He wasn’t raised in the home of influential people. His dad was a carpenter, and Jesus followed in his footsteps. In that regard, he was just like everybody else in his neighborhood.
But picture it. The Savior of the world, God himself, worked an ordinary job just like everybody else. He was actively holding the universe together. But growing up, he did the same household chores as all his friends. He grew up under the same conditions as every other ordinary kid that we’ve never heard of.
Jesus wasn’t wealthy either. When he was born, his parents went to have him dedicated to the Temple. And it was customary for parents to offer a sacrifice at their baby’s dedication. Joseph and Mary gave the smallest possible donation. It’s all they could afford. Jesus left the eternal riches of heaven and entered into a world of poverty. I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s words:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
4. Jesus wasn’t from the big city.
Today, Nazareth is an important city. After all, it’s where Jesus grew up and spent much of his life. But the only reason we’ve even heard of Nazareth is because Jesus lived there. The Old Testament never mentions Nazareth. Most ancient historians and geographers fail to even mention that it existed. Even in its own day, no one thought it was an important place.
When Nathanael, who would eventually be one of Jesus’ twelve, heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he couldn’t believe it. He said, “Can anything good come from there?” He didn’t think so. But, boy, was he surprised when he met this man from the city of nobodies.
5. Jesus’ small town didn’t think he was a big deal.
You would think that growing up in a town where nothing important ever happened would make Jesus the most popular guy there. After all, he was a big fish in a little pond. But the people of Nazareth weren’t impressed.
One day, Jesus preached about the mission God had given to him. A mission to preach freedom to the captives, sight to the blind, liberty to the oppressed, news of God’s favor! But all the people could say to each other was, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? The carpenter? Does he really think he can do everything he just said?” They couldn’t fathom the idea that this ordinary kid would do something extraordinary. They had no idea who they were talking to.
6. Jesus hung out with the people no one liked.
Jesus was constantly criticized for the company he kept. He hung out with tax collectors. Now, tax collectors were seen as traitors and crooks in their community. They were hated and dehumanized by their own people. Yet these were the people that Jesus spent time with.
Jesus also spent time with prostitutes and other sinners. He spent time with the people that others didn’t even see as people. They were objects to be used, abused, and thrown away. These are the people that Jesus spoke value and dignity to. Meanwhile, the parties of all the respectable, influential, and nicely dressed people didn’t interest him at all. He would rather spend his time with the nobodies.
7. The spiritual leaders Jesus left behind were a motley crew.
Jesus came to this earth with the mission to bring salvation to every nation. In order to carry out that mission, he would need the right people to continue his work when he ascended into heaven.
When you think about the sheer gravity of that mission, it’s almost baffling to look at the people Jesus selected. Among the ranks of his top 12 leaders, there was a tax collector, who worked for the Roman government; a Zealot--someone in a political party that hated the Roman Empire and was ready to violently oppose it; and a number of fishermen, who were uneducated and unspectacular in almost every way. This is the group Jesus selected to begin a worldwide movement of eternal importance.
In the early days of the Jesus movement, Jesus valued the influence and leadership of women. And while we see that as a good thing today, it was actually something that was viewed dishonorably in its own time. It was with this core team of people (that no one in their right mind would have assembled) that Jesus began to change the world. This was the group of people who became known as the group that turned the world “upside down” (Acts 17:6). It was this group of nobodies that were involved in the most extraordinary movement the world has ever seen. And that’s the same movement we are involved with today.
Jesus blesses the meek
The significance we so desperately long for can only be found when we are willing to be what the world would consider to be nobodies, to be meek. Our greatness is found in seeking to make God’s glory known. This is the example that Jesus has given us.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
Even if you feel like nobody sees you, you can know that you are somebody to Jesus. Somebody he was willing to die for. Someone who he values more than you’ve ever known. Someone with whom he will share his glory. Jesus delights in nobodies, because they aren’t nobodies to him. Blessed are the meek!
Dale Chamberlain and his wife Tamara are authors and speakers who are passionate about loving and serving Jesus together. They love having conversations and creating community around the abundant life that Jesus promised us. You can connect with Dale and Tamara at herandhymn.com.
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