Yesterday was Family Worship Sunday at Avalon. We have those on the 5th Sundays of the month. When we had in-person church, there were activities to encourage children to participate or last year’s Table Talks, where we discussed around tables (thus the name). With COVID and online, this month looked much like a usual service except the people on stage were different. The youth worship band led the musical worship time (Great job everyone!), and it was fun seeing some of the kids from the high school I work at using their talents in this way. And then the Family Life Pastor, Kodi Mullins, preached the sermon. If you missed it, you should check it out here. We have moved on to the third sentence in the Sermon on the Mount. I am really glad we are taking these slow because there is a lot behind each of these statements, especially the Beatitudes. These statements are about a different way of living. An upside-down way which even the graphic displays. (Thanks for pointing that out Kodi for those of us who hadn’t looked at it that closely.) And this week’s statement is truly an upside-down sentence.
Like last week my first response is that can’t be right. The people who have the power, those who are in charge and inherit the earth, are anything but meek! Meek means letting someone walk all over you right? How do those people inherit the earth?
So first we need to define meek. Dictionary.com starts with “humbly patient or quiet in nature,” which is what I think of when I think of meek. Humbleness to the extreme is really how I picture it. But the Merriam-Webster dictionary online has as it’s first definition of meek as, “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” When I read that, I picture Jesus. That’s what Jesus did on the cross. He endured lots of injury without defense and with forgiveness on his lips, which is the opposite of resentment. So meek looks like Jesus, who is all powerful, choosing to not respond defensively. [And as a side note, but possibly an application for us, meekness is the opposite of what I see in the news recently. Christians are not behaving meekly. They are defending themselves and their rights and fighting for lots of things. But that isn’t meekness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek….” Maybe we need to examine our response to “injury” if the meek are the ones who are blessed.]
Kodi used the following definition: “Meekness is a hope rooted in God that leads to faithful responses even in the face of adversity.” He drew that definition through connections (that’s what we do here in this blog) from this verse to the Old Testament.
And as Kodi rightly pointed out, when a New Testament writer or Jesus uses echoes of the Old Testament or even quotes it, they are usually referring to the whole of the OT passage, not just the words that are quoted. Psalm 37 gives us several things to do, ways of thinking, and choices to make that lead up to verse 11. It also gives hope in the rest of the chapter. However, I am doing the Psalms in order. I’m on Psalm 2, and my blog on Psalm 37 will just have to wait. But I encourage you to go read Psalm 37 and see how the Jews, who were oppressed, are encouraged to behave, how they are encouraged to trust God, how they are encouraged to hope, to look forward to a time when they will inherit the earth. Listen to the sermon too. Like me, you might draw new connections from Matthew 5:5, not just backward into the Old Testament, but forward to our future hope.
And if you are wondering how to draw your own connections in Scripture, I have a tool for you: a chain-reference Bible. Some apps or websites like Bible Gateway have this tool. Bible Gateway refers to it as cross references, and it is a setting you can choose to turn on. Someone has drawn some connections for you. Look up the cross references. Some are really applicable and will be a great help to understanding the original passage (like the light Psalm 37 sheds on Matthew 5:5). Others just use similar words. But that is an initial starting point for exploring connections in the Bible. After yesterday’s sermon, I did that with “Blessed are those who mourn” from last week and discovered a connection between it and Isaiah 61. Read the first few verses. Then look up Matthew 11:1-6 and Luke 4:14-30. I love how it all connects.
May you be blessed by God’s Word today.