Summary: Thus far all of the Beatitudes have expressed man's need, now comes a solution.
“Hungering For God”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for right-eousness, For they shall be filled.”
Nutritionists emphasize that importance of one’s diet by telling us, “We are what we eat!” That can be a frightening thought if the major portion of our diet is fast food and donuts. When we extend the idea that we are what we consume to our spiritual life it is even more frightening. Our generation of Americans watches more violence and sex on television in a week than our grandparents were exposed to in a lifetime. If we feed our minds on violence and sensuality, then eventually we will personify those things.
So we really need to hear what Jesus says in verse six, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for right-eousness, For they shall be filled.” When we hear that we may think “Oh no, here we go again!” Jesus now says, “Happy are the Hungry.” The whole world is seeking after happiness there is no doubt about that. Everyone wants to be happy. People seek happiness through many things; power, pleasure, possessions, and prestige. But the command is not to hunger and thirst after happiness.
Even Christians can be guilty of looking for happiness in the wrong places. Martyn Lloyd Jones writes, “There are large numbers of people in the Christian church who seem to spend the whole of their life seeking something which they never find, seeking some kind of happiness and blessedness. They round from meeting to meeting, and seminar to seminar (convention to convention), always hoping they are going to get this wonderful thing, this experience that is going to fill them with joy and flood them with some ecstasy.” [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount” (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1993) p. 76]
One needs to remember that the first five verses of chapter five which are the beginning of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” have pointed out man's spiritual need and have shown the type of approach that is necessary if one is to be made spiritually happy by God. First, the man who comes to God must be "poor in spirit," that is that he is spiritually bankrupt in God's sight. Second, he must "mourn.” This does not refer simply to the kind of sorrow experienced for the sick or dying. It is sorrow for sin.. Third, the man who would experience God's salvation must also be "meek" or humble. This refers to his taking a lowly place before God in order that he might receive God's salvation. These beatitudes have all expressed man's need.
Now in the fourth beatitude there comes a solution; if a man will hunger and thirst after right-eousness, God will fill him with righteousness and declare him righteous. That man will be justified before God, and he will embark upon the blessed and effective life outlined in the reminder of the Sermon on the Mount.
This morning we will examine four things in dealing with this passage.
First, The Meaning Of Hunger And Thirst
One of our greatest problems in understanding this Beatitude is that because we rarely experience real hunger or thirst we miss the urgency of these words. Jesus was describing a person who was at the point of starving to death or one who is so dehydrated that they will die if they do not get something to drink.
Hunger and thirst represent the basic necessities of physical life. Human history bears record that the all most every part of our world has been periodically plagued by famine. You will recall the famine in Middle East that sent Joseph’s brothers begging for grain in Egypt (Genesis 41:54-57) in the time that Joseph served as Prime Minister of Egypt. Rome experienced a famine so great (436 B.C.) that thousands in desperation threw themselves in the Tiger River -committing suicide rather starve to death. Even in the 21st century famines still persist, as late as last year (2010) there was a famine in Niger and West Africa.
But what we need to understand is that a starving person has a single, all-consuming passion- for food and water. The man who is starving to death does not want something to eat and a new suit. The woman who is dehydrated to the point of death does not want a drink of water and a new car. Their desperation makes them very singular minded. Nothing else has the slight-est attraction or appeal, nothing else can even get their attention.
The story is told that a young man came to the famous Greek philosopher Socrates and told him he wanted knowledge. So the philosopher told the young man to follow him. He then led him to ocean and on out into the water. Without warning Socrates grabbed the young man and plunged him beneath the water and held him there until the young man stop struggling. Then Socrates pulled the young man out of the water, gasping for air. Socrates then dragged the young man to the shore and left him on the sand and returned to the marketplace. When the young man recovered he sought Socrates out and asked him why he had tried to drown him. Socrates replied, “When you were under the water what did you want more than anything else.” The young man replied, “I wanted to breathe. I needed air!” Socrates responded by saying, “When you crave knowledge like you crave air, you are ready to be my student.” That is what Jesus was saying about righteousness. Jesus is saying, “Blessed are those whose craving for the things of God are just as intense as the craving for food and water!”