Jesus’ call is not just to come to him. It is also to learn from him. The essence of discipleship is learning the ways of the Master, then walking in those ways. In fact, this passage is like an early forecast of the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel. There Jesus said to make disciples by baptizing new believers, then teaching them to keep everything he commanded them. Here he says something similar, inviting people to come to him so they can “learn” from him.
While the Great Commission instructs Jesus’ disciples to teach “all he commanded,” this earlier version tells disciples specifically to learn his meekness. This is because meekness is essential to Jesus’ total character. If we possess the Lord’s meekness, we have the power to perform his other commands. For meekness is the absence of personal agenda, and is therefore foundational to the kind of obedience Jesus requires.
If we lack this foundation of meekness, how can we obey all of the Lord’s other commands? They would require too much from us. Without meekness, we are still trying to hold on to our own reputation or ambitions. How, then, can we afford to offer the other cheek after being slapped? Or forgive relentlessly? Or continue to love those who persecute or betray us?
Without the meekness of Jesus coursing through our veins, these responses – and others like them – are impossible. We cannot afford his selfless, crucified lifestyle if we have not already settled the issue that we don’t belong to ourselves. Our lives must be like Jesus’ life: at God’s disposal in every way, at all times. That is meekness. It is the cross made practical. It activates God’s power to obey all of his commands.
After all, meekness is the way Jesus exercised his royalty and took dominion over his enemies (Psa 45:4; Matt 12:18-21; 21:5; 26:47-68). So we too must deliberately learn from Jesus how to be meek. How can we do that?
Jesus explains two ways, which we will address in the coming blogs…