Blessed Are the Meek

Copyright 2003


Jordan White

There was an excellent cartoon in the June 9, 2003 issue of the New Yorker magazine. Titled "Rumor of the Week by Edward Sorel", it is captioned: "The Reverend Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, is said to have assured President Bush that the prophesy [sic] "The meek shall inherit the earth" is simply a mistranslation." Bush then replies, as he relaxes at his Oval Office desk, "Well, y'know I figured it hadda be somethin' like that, 'cause it just never made any sense." This is great stuff, because Sorel has put his finger, so to speak, on exactly what is the big problem with Bush's neo-conservative, right-wing Christian fundamentalist stance. The problem is, of course, that while Bush goes around prattling about what would Jesus do, or how Jesus has changed his heart, or how he is born-again and so on and so forth, blah, blah, he has never been willing to stop talking and start obeying.

One clarification: The so-called "Sermon on the Mount" (found in Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7), from which the phrase, "The meek shall inherit the earth" is taken, certainly contains elements of prophecy but is not primarily prophetic in nature. That is, while Jesus certainly was taking the future times into consideration (He did say, "shall inherit", not "are inheriting"), He was not letting us off the hook so easily as to say all of these things will come about at some later day. He was not saying, "Start being meek after My Second Coming, and you'll inherit the earth". He was saying, "Become a meek person, and you'll have a place in my new Kingdom, which I'm founding as we speak. If you follow the principles I am laying down right now, I'll be sure you reap the rewards I deem just. Otherwise, you will be laying up for yourselves nothing but worthless, temporal junk, which will be all you will get. Nice knowing you, goodbye." The basic behavior trait that should characterize any real Christian, that is, a true follower of Christ, should be that of unquestioning obedience to the Master, Jesus Christ. And that means paying attention to, no, not "what Jesus would do", as Bush would have it, but what Jesus would have US do. And that's no mystery. That's what the "Sermon on the Mount" is. It's a laying down of "Kingdom Principles", sort of like a heavenly "Constitutional Convention". It's an explanation of the sort of behavior Jesus commands from His followers, and what attitudes of the heart will bring about the changes that demonstrate the sincere follower's willingness to obey the Master.

It's interesting to note that the "Sermon on the Mount" is also the source of the quote, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."