Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV)1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Each beatitude starts with the word “blessed” which is sometimes translated “happy”.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
No two people are exactly alike. They never have been and never will be. Even identical twins aren’t exactly alike. We are different from one another in so many ways. We have different fingerprints; eye, hair, and skin colors; heritage; intelligence levels; and personalities, not to mention height and weight.
However we are all alike in that we all get hungry and thirsty. Jesus, as in his usual way of simplifying something complicated, used this common demonstration, of hunger and thirst, to express the truth that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied.
It is a little strange that someone who is hungry and/or thirsty can be happy, but Jesus explained that the right kind of hunger and thirst leads to happiness.
In the Greek, what Jesus said, indicates one desiring, not just a portion but all of the righteousness of God. Righteousness cannot be achieved in our own strength; it is a standing before God. God has imputed to us righteousness because we believe in Jesus Christ There are two types of righteousness
(1) Of the law, which at its best leads to self-righteousness which results in judging others.
(2) Righteousness given by God through believing in Jesus Christ
Righteousness is being right with God and our fellow man. We cannot improve upon this righteousness, and it leads to gratefulness. We're not to hunger and thirst after happiness, but after righteousness. Blessed is the man, not who is righteous, but who hungers and thirsts after righteousness.
As hunger and thirst are the most highly developed of our natural appetites, this hunger and thirst refers to "those whose deepest cravings are after spiritual blessings."
Just as physical craving is urgent, and calls for instant gratification, there is a spiritual craving that is equally, if not more intense.
Jesus is declaring that those who feel an intense desire for righteousness will get it.
Romans 3:21-26 NKJV But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
So Jesus was actually asking, “How much do you want righteousness? As much as a hungry person wants food? As much as a thirsty person wants water?”. If you do, Jesus said that you will be blessed, or happy.
If you hunger and thirst after righteousness you will be happy because of the desires they create.
Just what is this “righteousness” for which we are to hunger and thirst? It is more than judicial justice or a rigid code of conduct. It is nothing less than goodness.
The desire for personal goodness.
Galatians 5:19-23 ESV Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The desire to do good to others.
Micah 6:8 ESV He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
When we have a sincere desire to do good to others, we become generous in the way we talk to and treat others. We go the second mile for others. Doing good to others is a very happy way to live.
The desire to know God.
Luke 18:18-19 ESV And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
Some desires degrade or, when satisfied, destroy. But the desire to know God edifies and establishes happiness. No one is happier than those who hunger and thirst to know God more and who satisfy that hunger daily by reading God’s Word, praying, and serving him.
If you hunger and thirst after righteousness you will be happy because of the satisfaction you get.
Jesus promised that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness “shall be filled,” or satisfied. But what satisfaction does this hunger and thirst bring?
The satisfaction of experiencing goodness in this life.
It’s as simple as this;
Psalms 23:1-6 ESV The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The satisfaction of entering into complete goodness in the life to come.
Hebrews 4:3 ESV For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 21:1-4 ESV Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
Those who hunger will eat, and those who thirst will drink. Both will be satisfied. This promise is without qualification.