Or when we try and out do someone in our passion for a certain food. “I like this more than you do” We might not say it, but we think it ;). I lived this with my twin brother. He’d always try and convince us he liked something more that we did so he could eat more of it.
When I was a kid, if there was something I didn’t like on my dish, and my grandfather got wind of me communicating that, he’d go into a line we heard him say many times. “If you’re hungry, you’ll eat what is in front of you”.
Now…nothing is wrong with having a favourite kind of food…and this is coming from someone who passionately speaks of foods that I love. BUT…once in a while we are struck with the reality that our basic need is simple food & plain water.
When we go without it, we understand the words Hungry and Thirsty so much better.
This leads us to the fourth simple, yet profound line, of Jesus’ Beatitudes. And this one is just as reversed in nature as the first three lines.
We’ve been saying that the Beatitudes reflect a reverse way of moving forward as well as anything else Jesus said.
How much more reversed can you get…Happy are…Blessed are…the poor? The grieving? The meek? The hungry?
Imagine you are part of this poor, grieving, humble and hungry crowd in Matthew 5…and Jesus finally moves to this line?
“Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
Out of all the things Jesus’ has said to this point, this has got to be the most ridiculous. How can this be Jesus? What are you trying to tell those listeners that day…and me today?
There are 4 key words to this text…
Hunger & Thirst…
The first two words are pretty plain & simple. Hungry & Thirsty is the normal response to lacking something that is essential to living.
Hunger & Thirst are a result of two things:
- elapsed time & used up energy.
- We get hungry after not eating for a while and we get thirsty after using up energy.
Many of us in this part of the world don’t understand hunger. I should say, when you have enough, you really don’t get it.
But we must know that Jesus cares for those who are hungry and thirsty. He said as much in Matthew 25…
‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father…And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
Simply put. The hungry and the thirsty are blessed, as are those who feed them. Bono, the lead singer from U2, got it right when he said, “Don’t ask God to bless what you’re doing, find out what he’s blessing and be there…go there.”
Now…as true and important as that is, it’s not the end of the sentence is it?
Jesus says blessed are those who hunger & thirst for ___________.
Righteousness = right relatedness…not with the bible, but with God…and with others.
This isn’t a righteousness you can buy (or sell like the Roman Catholic’s did in the 14th century), trade or work for, but one, as Bonhoefer said, is like a beautiful coat, that is put over us and our sin.
Paul says this about righteousness, “I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil 3:9)
So what is Jesus saying about this righteousness, this God-relatedness? You need to hunger and thirst for it in the same way you hunger and thirst for food.
Knowing God and the ways of his kingdom is so important that you gotta desire it…ache for it…long for it…for Him.
This begs the questions: What is it that you long for? That you hunger for? That you thirst for? That you ache for? This question tells us a lot about who we are; it tells us what consumes our minds & hearts
Jesus words are reminiscent of Isaiah 55:1-2,
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters…
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
Remember…Jesus described himself as the bread of life…as living water…to eat & drink.
Let’s jump to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 (on the hillside) where Jesus says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness…and all these things (food, drink, covering) will be given to you as well”
What is Jesus saying?
Long for, ache for, starve for, be hungry for…righteousness…Be Hungry for…GOD…Be Thirsty for…God!
…they will be filled…
What is the promise for this beatitude?
Of course it’s going to be ‘and they will be filled’.
This is God’s promise to those who are physically hungry & spiritually hungry. YOU WILL BE FILLED.
What fills you? What satisfies you? What quenches you? What makes you feel settled?
Nothing is wrong if you say food & drink. But what Jesus is getting at is so much more.
Two Psalms help us out here:
As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Augustine wrote his own Psalm with these words, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Ronald Rolheiser says something similar, “Spirituality is what we do with our unrest, with our hunger and thirst.”
Eugene Peterson paraphrases it so well, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Favourite food…all time…tell us passionately in just a few words?
What is the best part of food? Taste? Experience? Community?
Will we in North America ever truly understand what it means to be hungry & thirsty?
Connect these two words (hunger & thirst) to what Jesus says in Matthew 25. What do you feel? What do those words say to you?
Jesus obviously is trying to point our hunger & thirst somewhere…towards righteousness? What do you think Jesus is challenging us towards? What do we ache for? What to we really long for? Does God and his kingdom take first place?
How about the beautiful idea that we will be filled, satisfied, settled? Is that comforting? How do those few words make you feel?
Read the last few quotes & verses in the post. Any final thoughts?