I grew up being introduced to a femmy Jesus. He looked like Mr. Rogers, with a beard. He was nice and didn’t say anything offensive. He liked to pet sheep, and kids climbed all over him.
Ironically, “meekness” was always taught as “weakness”. And by 8th grade, I was over it.
So then I jumped ship to the fighting fundamentalist Jesus; He liked to protest things and blog about the end of the world! He was much more angry and it made for some exciting sermons…
But recently I stumbled into the real Jesus. The beautiful, intoxicating revolutionary who introduced the Kingdom Manifesto as a direct assault on the Roman Empire. This advancing Kingdom of God spreading like a wildfire by the least likely of characters.
“Blessed are the Meek”, says Jesus, “For they shall inherit the earth”.
The actual Greek translation of meekness [praus] speaks of strength under control. It is not a feminine hippy with no backbone [or, Kip Dynamite for example], nor is Meekness described by violence or brutal force. It’s neither Mr. Rogers nor Malcolm X.
Meekness is strength, under control.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle described meekness as the beautiful character quality that found a voice for the appropriate rage within. Because, as it has been said, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
Honest hermeneutical exegesis will reveal the real fire behind Jesus, the homeless Rabbi from Nazareth. History records that from His infancy, Jesus was born into a collision of Kingdoms. Biblical writers paint a portrait of Jesus on the warpath, planting subversive seeds of sedition right beneath the nose of King Herod!
Several of Jesus’ parables were contemporary commentaries on social justice, mocking the plastic impostor who claimed to rule over the Jews. Jesus and Herod were on a collision course, and Christ’s followers were invited to help spread the wildfire of the good news: The Kingdom of God is at hand!
One time when Jesus was in the middle of a diatribe on the splendor of the Real Kingdom, some Pharisees came to him with a warning, “Run! King Herod has issued a subpoena for your arrest… He wants to kill you!” Jesus fired back with a holy outrage: “Go tell that fox, I will cast out demons, I will heal people, and on the third day, I will finish my course!”
Strength under control does not wield an AK-47 and call for block battle. Strength under control recognized that at any moment, “I could call on my Father who would immediately dispatch 12 legion of angels on my behalf”… but chooses instead, a cross.
Jesus saw the face of evil, and did not ignore it. He climbed on a donkey and rode right into the mouth of the monster, only to eventually be ushered before the wicked King Herod. (Picture Jesus in handcuffs, with a swollen eye and bloody nose, being questioned by Herod). “And Jesus gave him no answer.”
He didn’t even honor his questions with an answer! He completely disrespected him, and ignored the hailstorm of bullets. Because He had seen the throne… and Herod was not on it!
Meekness is standing in the face of adversity, with the conviction of assumed authority as a child of the Real King. And to confront systemic evil with beautiful anger, because holy outrage leads to the healing and reconciliation of this broken world.