“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. -Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
We hear those words on the lips of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. But, too often we misunderstand what he’s saying.
I always thought that people who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those who are so zealous to do good deeds that they are constantly gobbling up righteousness at every turn. They sort of sounded like a religious Pac-Man- a compulsive eater of good deeds. My imagination always concocted a picture of a Mother Teresa type person- someone who had an insatiable appetite for goodness that sent them on a 24/7 quest for pious accomplishments.
I predict that you, dear reader, had a similar interpretation.
But, there’s a problem with that interpretation: It completely misses what it means to hunger and thirst. Hungering and thirsting are a recognition of our emptiness. I only hunger when I recognize that my belly is empty. I only thirst when know that I’m parched. Hungering and thirsting are a groaning acknowledgment that I’m lacking something that I desperately need- food and drink. So, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness you are recognizing that you don’t have any. Hunger and thirst are our body’s alarm system. There’s something akin to panic in hungering and thirsting. Like a dinging “low fuel” light on your dashboard.
Jesus is saying that people who realize that their righteousness tank is damnably empty will be “satisfied”. How is that? Is it because they’re going to finally learn how to get their act together? Are we lawbreakers going to finally start pulling our weight and earning our keep? Paul says that never happens. In Romans 3 he explains: “ For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.”
So, how’s it going to happen? How are those who see their bankruptcy going to be satisfied? Romans 3:21 explains it: But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets.”
Isn’t that amazing? The righteousness of God that has been revealed is none other than Christ Himself. He’s our righteousness. He’s the satisfaction for people who hunger and thirst.
All too often when we come to the Lord’s table we try to reflect on how well we’ve done lately with our righteous deeds. We’re guilty of coming to the table forgetting that we are truly hungry.
But, that’s precisely when we need to remember our hungering and thirsting. The Lord’s table is that satisfaction that Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount. In John 6 he says that his body and blood are precisely the life-giving food and drink that we so urgently need.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” -John 6:53-58
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.