Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
God has put into our hearts a longing for something eternal. This is what Jesus means when He says “blessed”. He is speaking of that longing in every human for happiness. This eternal longing cannot be satisfied with earthly pleasures. Yet, as humans we continue to try to satisfy it through so many different ways. There are extravagant vacations, bigger and bigger houses, the right schools, the best jobs, blockbuster movies, larger than life sporting events, escape through alcohol and drugs, and the list goes on and on. But in the end, the longing still remains.
Our soul is hungry and our heart is thirsty. We feel an emptiness but can’t seem to fill it. This is that longing that God has put inside of you and me. Almost everywhere you turn, the grass is greener than the spot you are in. And sadly, even though the Holy Spirit keeps calling you to
In today’s text, we find Jesus standing on the side of a mountain speaking to his disciples and a crowd of people listening in and trying to understand who this rabbi is and what He is all about. Jesus is speaking to this universal human experience of eternal longing. He speaks about the ravenous hunger of the human heart and about the relentless thirst of our soul.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
To understand what Jesus is saying, we need to answer a couple of questions:
What is the righteousness that Jesus speaks of?
This hunger and thirst for righteousness, how does it turn into the satisfaction Jesus promises?
So we begin by answering the question of what Jesus means by righteousness. This question is important because we struggle to properly define this word in English. In our individualized culture, the average person attributes righteousness as a virtue that an individual person possesses. However, that type of righteousness is actual something completely different, we call it self-righteousness. This is exactly what the gospel says we cannot have (Romans 3). This righteousness Jesus speaks of is sought by the Christ follower and given by God. Out of the abundance of our gratitude to God for giving us Christ’s righteousness, comes an activity that shows this overflowing gratitude to those around us.
There is purpose here how Jesus says these beatitudes. The three beatitudes leading up to verse 6 are descriptions of emptiness: poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, and our verse today is the action that makes the switch from emptiness to fullness. The next three beatitudes show that our hunger and satisfaction is an active and overflowing of mercy, that it is being pure in heart and it is not just having peace, but being a peacemaker. This second group of beatitudes ends with a reference to righteousness just like the first set of four did, but this time it is a persecution for righteousness with which we are overflowing.
Only once we have been filled to an overflowing level of satisfaction does this mercy, purity and peacemaking make its way in our lives. We will only be filled when our hunger and thirst changes from the things this world offers and moves to a longing for righteousness.
Turning Hunger and Thirst into Satisfaction
The words Jesus uses here in the original language are “to suffer hunger” and “to suffer thirst”. It is this idea of a deep, genuine hunger and thirst. This is what Jesus wants for us. That we would hunger and thirst deeply, with a genuine desire for righteousness. That we would be so empty, that nothing can fill the void except what Jesus can give you.
When your hunger and thirst for righteousness is finally satisfied, you hunger and thirst for more of God’s righteousness. You begin to overflow from being filled up and the world sees that overflowing by your actions. Mercy, purity, and peacemaking are abundant in your everyday life.
How Hungry Are You?
Ask yourself if your hunger or thirst is unconditional. If you really hunger and thirst after righteousness, it will be unconditional. Remember the rich young ruler who came and said, “I want to know how I can enter the kingdom,” and Jesus said, “Really? Are you willing to sell all you have and give it to the poor?” “No.” (Matthew 19:16-30) He was hungry, but his hunger was conditional and he never was filled.
It could be that one of the reasons that everything always looks greener from where you stand is because your life is not devoted to the central pursuit of righteousness, but instead it is a pursuit of other things. When we think about the way we regularly pursue food and drink with such strong urges, my prayer is that we would pursue righteousness through prayer and His word with those same strong urges. And when our hunger and thirst are properly focused, and our appetite is satisfied, may we long for more of God’s glory again and again.
Only His Righteousness Satisfies
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?