Summary: Being hungry and thirsty for righteousness isn’t about fufilling obligations, it’s about an ardent desire to be right with God.
(This message begins with an opening video "The Fast" from Highway Video’s Classics collection. www.highwayvideo.com)
Being hungry is never pleasant. In fact, hunger can inspire bizarre behavior in us as humans. When we’re hungry, we sometimes do foolish things, sometimes we get irritable, or worse, feel sorry for ourselves, like the guy who was fasting in that video.
I finally figured out why fashion models always look so intimidating when they’re walking down the runways...they’re hungry! They only weigh like 28 lbs, so they can’t be eating! So they march around looking so mean because they’re so hungry! Someday it would be fun to sneak in and throw a slice of pizza on the runway! Man, that would be pandemonium! Like sharks at a feeding frenzy!
Hunger isn’t pleasant. We don’t look forward to when we can be hungry. We don’t reminisce about the wonderful times of being hungry we’ve had. Hunger is not something we normally desire.
Yet Jesus has something very interesting to say about hunger, and we’re going to look at it this morning.
We are studying the Gospel of Matthew. We are still on chapter 5, dealing with the sermon on the mount. We’re going verse by verse because frankly, this is important stuff. Jesus is describing those who are part of his Kingdom, and revealing the values that make up his Kingdom in the process.
He has been using contrasting ideas to express these things, by using a term over and over again...Makarios. It’s a word that the ancient Greeks used to describe the gods or the elite of society who were insulated from the hassles and cares of life on this planet.
But Jesus uses this word, which we translate as blessed...happy, content, satisfied, not to describe gods or the upper crust crowd, but rather the least expected to be satisfied of all, the poor in spirit; those who feel the pain of mourning; the meek. He does this to contrast the worlds idea of the way things are, to God’s view of life and it’s meaning.
So this morning, we come to verse 6 of chapter 5...and it reads:
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Now, I have to tell you, I’ve heard and read a lot of sermons about this verse in my life as a Christian. And in all honesty, with very few exceptions, what I’ve heard about this has not always left me feeling all that great. I hope to take this in a different direction this morning. I really want to get a glimpse of what Jesus has in view when he’s saying this to his disciples that day, on that mountain.
Blessed or satisfied, content, fulfilled, are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Now Jesus was talking to people who understood what it meant to be hungry or thirsty. In that region, few were prosperous, and more than likely, at one time or another, those listeners that day had experienced the kind of hunger he’s talking about here. It’s a desperate kind of hunger. The word he uses for hunger is “peinao” (pee-nah’-oh), and it means to ardently crave food.
It’s the same with thirst. He uses a strong word to describe thirsting: “dipsao” (dip-sah’-oh), which means to painfully feel the need for water.
What these two metaphors are directing us toward is the concept of human desire.
The desire for food and water are the strongest appetites we have as human beings. Why is it so difficult for so many Americans to loose weight? Because that desire for food is powerful, and difficult to fight with. It’s like that guy struggling over fasting in that opening video. Hunger is powerful. It controls us, it so often determines our directions.
I read a lot of soldier’s accounts who fought in WW2, and some of those soldiers suffered the terrible conditions of the Battle of the Bulge, where supply lines had been cut, and those guys were days without food,in the cold. So often they recorded how they would spend their time in the foxhole talking about their favorite food, or sleep and DREAM about eating their favorite meal.
This is the kind of hunger Jesus is talking about when he says those who are hungry for righteousness are blessed. You know what’s interesting about hunger like that?
When I have gone a long time without eating, I never dream about eating Zucchini, or squash, or sweet potatoes; mainly because I hate that stuff! Now, if I’m really hungry and that stuff were put before me, I’d eat it right up. But in terms of how my craving is being expressed, when I’m hungry and I think of food, I think of the food I love.