“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5, ESV).
I find this beattitude to be a wonderful promise held out for the redeemed of the Lord. One day the whole earth will be ours. Jesus does not promise a few acres of land with boundary markers. He promises to give his people the whole earth. In many ways, this promise and beattitude overturns the fall of Adam and Eve, who rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden thereby forsaking their mandate to exercise dominion over the planet. What the first man and woman lost due to sin along with all of their descendants, Jesus promises to give back to those in union with him.
From my perspective, this blows my mind to the nth degree. If I recall my Sunday school lessons and bible reading, the serpent used deception to steal Adam and Eve’s authority over creation. This resulted in sin and death infecting all of it; however, Jesus won back mankind’s authority over the earth and creation by his death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father. The Son succeeded where Adam failed: Jesus overcame the enemy. If this was not an objective fact, he could not have said that all authority had been given to him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18, ESV). This statement would be an outright lie.
Because Jesus won the victory over the adversary, he has the right to grant his inheritance to all those who call upon his name. What this statement means is that Jesus occupies the role of the firstborn son. In ancient, Hebrew culture, the eldest son stood first in line to inherit all of his father’s possessions. This exchange did not have to occur at the father’s death. It could take place beforehand, especially if old age prevented the father from functioning as the head of his household. At some point, the father handed over to his firstborn son all of his possessions and his authority to oversee them. Now, the oldest son’s entire family, friends and strangers interacted with him in the same way that they used to with the father. This entire portrait applies to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Son of God is the firstborn of all of the redeemed throughout redemptive history. He stands first in line to receive everything from the Father. According to the second chapter of Hebrews, the Father has promised to subject all of creation to the Son in the world to come; however, in the present age, the Son’s work of salvation inaugurates this rule (Hebrews 2:5-13, ESV). This is the famous already-not yet tension within the New Testament. This tension gets to the heart of the word meek. In the Greek, the word means exercising God’s strength under his control or demonstrating power without undue harshness. Jesus is all that and more. In fact, his picture needs to be next to the Greek word praeis (translated meek in English) since he lived it out to the full during his suffering and death on the cross.
If redemption’s goal is to conform the redeemed to the image of his son, then meekness characterizes them as it did their savior (Romans 8:29, ESV). When persecutions come my way, do I retaliate or compromise my witness because of them? Jesus did not retaliate against his persecutors, and he remained true to his testimony. At no point in his life and ministry do we see Jesus caving in to culture and society. He remained steadfast to the end, and he commands his people to do the same (Matt. 24:13; Mark 13:13; Revelation 2:10, 17, 26, ESV). Jesus is the example for the redeemed. His meekness is to be ours via the person and work of the Holy Spirit. In turn, our Lord will reward us with inheriting the earth alongside him. It is a promise that stretches back to the Old Testament: “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Psalm 37:11, ESV).