Posted by: sean | October 17, 2007

Matthew 5.5

taken from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pgs 62-63.

‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.’ This community of strangers possesses no inherent right of its own to protect its members in the world, nor do they claim such rights, for they are meek, they renounce every right of their own and live for the sake of Jesus Christ. When reproached, they hold their peace; when treated with violence they endure it patiently; when men drive them from their presence, they yield their ground. They will not go to law to defend their rights, or make a scene when they suffer injustice, nor do they insist on their legal rights. They are determined to leave their rights to God alone — non cupidi vindictae, as the ancient Church paraphrased it. Their right is in the will of their lord — that and no more. They show by every word and gesture that they do not belong to this earth.

Leave heaven to them, says the world in its pity, that is where they belong. But Jesus says: ‘They shall inherit the earth.’ To these, the powerless and the disenfranchised, the very earth belongs. Those who now possess it by violence and injustice shall lose it, and those who here have utterly renounced it, who were meek to the point of the cross, shall rule the new earth. We must not interpret this as a reference to God’s exercise of juridical punishment within the world, as Calvin did: what it means is that when the kingdom of heaven descends, the face of the earth will be renewed, and it will belong to the flock of Jesus. God does not forsake the earth: he made it, he sent his Son to it, and on it he built his Church.

Thus a beginning has already been made in this present age. A sign has been given. The powerless have here and now received a plot of earth, for they have the Church and its fellowship, its goods, its brothers and sisters, in the midst of persecutions even to the length of the cross. The renewal of the earth begins at Golgotha, where the meek One died, and from thence it will spread. When the kingdom finally comes, the meek shall possess the earth.

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Responses

  1. That is a fantastic passage. It beautifully shows the future Kingdom on the earth – and why we give up our rights now. So that we may have them in the future. The Kingdom will crush all those who work through force and violence to keep what they have in this world.

  2. So many see the reward from the beatitudes as a present reality but surely this is not the point at all. Jesus speaks paradoxically, he says that if we give up our rights to the earth here and now we will gain ownership of it when the kingdom comes. Dietrich Bonhoeffer so beautifully brings out the implications of this simple statement of Jesus in a way that at first may appear shocking but then upon reflection fits into the whole apocalyptic scheme of the Gospels.


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