Blessed Are the Hungry & Thirsty

Matthew 5:6

Tom Pennington  •  October 23, 2011
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If you're visiting with us today, I just want to let you know you dropped in as we find ourselves having just begun what has already been a rich and what will probably be a lengthy study of the Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon our Lord ever preached—the fullest record of a sermon of His in all of scripture. We're studying Matthew's account in Matthew chapters 5, 6 , and 7. So I invite you to turn there with me there this morning, Matthew 5.

I am always reading. I love to read. If you were to go into my office here or my office at home, into my bedroom and there on the nightstand next to my bed, you would find books. All kinds of books of all different types and varieties. I'm always reading, and everything from theology to history. Right now, I'm reading two secular books in addition to other things. One of them is William Manchester's first volume of his two volume biography of Winston Churchill. The definitive work on the life of the great English hero of the last century. The other book that I'm reading is a book perhaps you have read, many have read, entitled Unbroken. It's been a popular best-seller for about a year now, on the New York Times best seller list. It is the remarkable story of an Olympic runner and of a World War II veteran named Louis Zamporini. Louis' son Luke used to be in the class that I pastored out at Grace Community Church, and through his son Luke, I got to meet Louis and to hear his story first hand. Now, that story has become a New York Times best seller. The story is written by Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote the best seller Sea Biscuit. Laura Hillenbrand writes this about Louis Zamporini. "On a May afternoon in 1943, Louis took off on a search mission for a lost plane. Somewhere over the Pacific the engines on his bomber failed. The plane plummeted into the sea, leaving Louis and two other men stranded on a tiny raft. Drifting for weeks and thousands of miles, they endured starvation and desperate thirst. There were eleven men on that bomber. Eight of them were killed on impact. Three of them survived. One of them would die on that raft during their lengthy time adrift. The two that survived still hold the record for ocean survival. They survived floating on the Pacific Ocean for some 47 days" The biographer writes that about two to three weeks, about, is typical for those who have been stranded and separated from food and water. The hunger became so intense for these three that they discussed the possibility of cannibalism—of choosing and sacrificing one of them so that the others could live. They decided amongst themselves they could never do that. And so for 47 days the two who ultimately survived, survived solely on rain water they collected in their little raft that was turning to gel through the weeks they floated on it, and through two albatrosses that had the unfortunate luck to land on their raft, and several small fish, all eaten raw. During their ordeal they lost half of their body weight. It's really a compelling story. But the truth that comes out again and again in their story, particularly that part of it when they're floating there on the pacific for 47 days, is that men dying of hunger and thirst are truly desperate men. There is little they won't do or at least consider doing, in order to survive.

In the beatitude that we come to today, our Lord says that those who belong to Him, those who are part of His spiritual kingdom have a spiritual thirst and a spiritual hunger like that. Now, we are in the middle of a study on the beatitudes. We're on the fourth today of the eight. When we began our study we discovered that there are really four guiding principles for interpreting these beatitudes correctly, and let me remind you of those principles, even as we prepare to look a the fourth one today. First of all, the beatitudes describe all true Christians. They describe those who are actually part of Jesus' spiritual kingdom. He begins the first beatitude and pronounces in the last beatitude, the eighth, that the people described by these qualities own the kingdom of heaven. That is, it belongs to them. They are in it. They are in His spiritual kingdom. Secondly we discovered that the opposite of each beatitude describes every unbeliever. In Luke's account, Luke tells us that at the same time Jesus pronounced these eight blessings, He pronounced eight corresponding woes. Those woes were pronounced on the opposite of these qualities listed in the beatitudes. So, the beatitudes describe all believers, the opposite of the beatitudes describe all unbelievers. Thirdly, we discovered that these qualities are received by grace alone. These are not qualities you can make up your mind and do. You may be able to pull yourself up by your bootstrap in other ways in life, but you can never accomplish these things on your own. You can never produce these qualities in your own heart. Only the Spirit of God can produce them in you. And fourthly, we discovered that Jesus is the only one who has perfectly lived out these beatitudes. The rest of us receive them by grace and need grace for our failure to do them perfectly. So, so far, we have used those principles to work our way through three of the beatitudes.

Today we come to the fourth of the eight. Look with me in Matthew 5:6. "Blessed (our Lord says) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Now, remember, we learned the word blessed does not mean happy. Instead it means that these people, according to Jesus, enjoy a state or condition of spiritual health or spiritual prosperity. They are the ones who—and they alone—who truly belong to Jesus' spiritual kingdom. So in this fourth beatitude, then, Jesus is saying this: Spiritually prosperous are all of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Now, that is a profound far-reaching statement. Jesus, in that statement, declares this: that a true Christian can always be identified by what he or she desires.

But what does Jesus tell us about this desire? Well, in this fourth beatitude, Jesus reveals three critical details about the desire that marks every true Christian. I want us to look at those three details that He reveals in this very brief statement about this desire, that is present in every person who is truly in His spiritual kingdom. First of all I want you to notice that this desire is consuming. It is a consuming desire. Look at verse 6 again. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst" By the way, Luke, in his record only includes hunger. He does not include thirst, so both of these are illustrating the same idea. They're both making the same point. Jesus compares those who are spiritually prosperous to those who are overcome by hunger and thirst. Now, let's just begin by admitting that we don't really understand this experientially. When it comes to water, for example, our homes typically have more than a dozen faucets scattered throughout and within easy reach. With a simple twist of the handle, we can have gallon after gallon of water. If we go out to eat, the server will often bring us water whether we ask for it or not. Many in our society have taken to buying cases of bottled water and carrying a bottle with them wherever they go. It's ever present. What about food? Well we have pantries and refrigerators that are literally stuffed full of food from all over the world. And if we run out of what's in our refrigerator or our freezer or our backup freezer, then we can go down the street just a few minutes away and within just a few minutes of our home, there will be large stores with 20 plus aisles stocked with food from everywhere. Within a ten minute radius of our homes, there are countless restaurants, where they'll serve us whatever we want with a seemingly endless supply. And whatever it is we order, they'll bring us a plate of food that 25 years ago would have been the size of a serving platter. In fact, the servings have become so large that an entire industry now exists to manufacture creative packaging so that you can take home your left-overs. We really have no sense, do we, of what it means to be hungry or thirsty.

But there are places–were in the first century and are today–places in Israel like the Judean wilderness, where Jesus' temptation occurred, places like that, that have some of the most barren desolate land on earth. In the first century they travelled for the most part on foot. So if you were travelling through one of those areas and you failed to plan ahead, or you became stranded or lost, real life-threatening thirst and hunger could become a reality within a very short period of time. So Jesus uses these images of hunger and thirst. When these words occur together in Scripture, hunger and thirst, they are almost always referring to hunger and thirst, not like the kind that you experience between breakfast this morning and lunch in a few minutes. We're not talking about that kind of hunger and thirst. But a far more profound kind of hunger and thirst. Just so you can appreciate the images Jesus is using, let me show you a couple of examples from Scripture. Go back to Deuteronomy 28. Again, these are just a couple of examples so you have a picture in your mind of what He is saying when He gives us this beatitude. Deuteronomy 28:47. Now this is in the context of Moses pronouncing the consequences that will come on God's people if they live in disobedience to God's law. Verse 47

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and he will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you."

You see the image by hunger and thirst in this passage? It's the image of a POW camp. When you think hunger and thirst, picture those images that you have seen of those who barely survived through the terrors and horrors of the World War II camps like Auschwitz, who almost died of hunger of thirst. That's the picture. Let me show you another one. Go over to 2 Chronicles 32. And again, you get another glimpse of what we're really talking about. 2 Chronicles 32:10. Sennacherib, king of Assyria had laid siege to Jerusalem in Judea and Hezekiah was saying, listen, just trust God, we're going to survive this. And so, verse 10 says,

Thus says Sennacherib, king of Assyria (here's a little propaganda, it's always been around in wartime) On what are you trusting that you are remaining in Jerusalem under siege? (Why are you staying there? Don't listen to Hezekiah) Is not Hezekiah misleading you to give yourselves over to die by hunger and by thirst, saying, the Lord our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria?"

The image here is not the image of the hunger and thirst of a POW camp. It's the hunger and thirst of a city under siege, where there's very little water and over time, no food. And you will slowly starve to death and suffer dehydration until you're dead. The same thing is true in the New Testament. The same basic image. Turn over to 1 Corinthians 4. Paul, in talking about what he endured as an apostle says in verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 4 "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless." That's the picture we're talking about. Or one more picture. Go over to 2 Corinthians 11. Paul is documenting all that happened to him in his life as an apostle. All kinds of terrible things occurred. Notice where he comes in verse 27. "I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure."

So understand then, that in biblical terms, when these words hunger and thirst are used together they are not describing what you feel right now. They are describing the hunger and thirst that comes in a POW camp, the hunger and thirst that comes in a city months and months under siege. The hunger and thirst that comes to an apostle who is essentially homeless and abused in every conceivable way. That's the picture. When you consider what it would be like to be hungry and thirsty like that, then you begin to understand why Jesus uses this picture in the fourth beatitude. Because that kind of hunger and thirst is supreme–no desire surpasses it. While you and I can't appreciate it by experience, we can understand it by logic. When you truly need and long for water and food, no other desire rivals that desire, and no other desire distracts you from that desire. I have to have it! It's a hunger and thirst that's constant. It never leaves your mind for more than a short period of time. And when you fall asleep, you fall asleep thinking about the food and water your need. When you dream, you dream about the food and water you need. When you awake, the first thing on your mind is the food and water that you need. It is insatiable. These are not desires that can be met once for all time. You can eat and drink your fill today, and within a short time be desperately hungry and thirsty again. So that's the picture Jesus is using. In the fourth beatitude, Jesus is using the physical desire for water and food born of starvation and dehydration as a profound metaphor for spiritual desire. Jesus describes the desire that characterizes and marks every true Christian as an intense, overwhelming, consuming desire. Metaphorically, to hunger and thirst is to desire something as strongly as a starving body craves food, and a dying man longs for water.

But what's the object of this consuming intense desire? What is the spiritual reality behind the picture of hunger and thirst. What do those who truly belong to Jesus' spiritual kingdom hunger and thirst for? Well that brings us to the second crucial detail about the true Christian's desire. Not only is it a consuming desire, but also it is concentrated. It is a focused desire. Look again at verse 6. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for (what, for) righteousness" The person who is in a state or condition of spiritual prosperity; the person who truly belongs to Jesus' spiritual kingdom, is marked by an intense desire for righteousness. Now that's not a word that we use every day. You probably haven't used that word this last week or this last month. But it's a very important word, and it was a word that was used every day both in the Hebrew Old Testament times, as well as in the times of the New Testament in the Greek language. Both in Hebrew and in Greek, the word for righteousness comes from the sphere of law and the courtroom. In fact, both the Hebrew word and the Greek word can be translated either as righteousness or justice. In English, righteousness and justice are two very different words, but in both Hebrew and Greek those words come from a single word group. Righteousness has the fundamental idea of conformity to a standard. Specifically in the legal context, it has to do with how a person stands before the law. A person who has kept the law is righteous. A person who has failed to keep the law is unrighteous. That's how it was used in everyday life. It was a legal term. Either you were righteous because you had kept the law, or you were unrighteous because you had failed to do so.

Now, in the Scripture, this word righteousness has primarily two uses. The first use is a righteous standing before the law given the undeserving sinner by grace alone. A righteous standing—status, before the law, in which the judge declares you to be right before the law. That's one use. The second use use is a righteous character and conduct that conforms to God's law. Now, as you look at those two ideas, as you consider those two ideas—a righteous standing and a righteous character and conduct, understand that the first of those is what theologians would call an imputed righteousness, a credited righteousness—a righteousness that is put to your account. The second of those is an imparted righteousness. It's righteousness that's actually given you and becomes yours personally. The first of these would be called positional. It has to do with your position before God. The second is practical. It has to do with who you really are. The first is legal. The second is moral. The first is what the reformers called alien righteousness. That is, it is a righteousness that is not yours. It is a foreign righteousness to you. It is outside of you and has been credited to you. It's not your own righteousness, it's the righteousness of another. The second of these is your own personal righteousness. The first of these is the righteousness of justification, as theologians would call it. The righteousness that comes to the believing sinner when God declares that believing sinner right before Him and the law, based on the righteous life of Jesus Christ, and on the death of Jesus Christ. The second of these is the righteousness of sanctification—the progressively being made more personally and really right, in reference to the law. So these are the two uses of righteousness in the Scripture. The question is, which does Jesus mean here in this beatitude.

Which of these two uses of righteousness is He referring to in the fourth beatitude—those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. I think Jesus is referring to both. Because, in Scripture, the two cannot be divorced. We enter into a right standing before God solely based on an alien righteousness, someone else's righteousness, credited to us. But once a believing sinner has been justified, has received a right standing before God, he or she always has this desire to be personally and practically righteous, to conform to the standard of God's law. So the two uses of righteousness always go together in Scripture and can never be separated. Let me show you an example—a couple of examples of this. Turn back to Genesis 15. This is the first time in Scripture the language of justification is used. The concept happens before this, but this is the first time the language itself is used. Genesis 15:6. We're told, of Abraham, that he believed in the Lord. He exercised faith, and God reckoned it to him as righteousness. God imputed or credited righteousness to him by faith. That's justification. That is a righteous standing before the law given the undeserving sinner. Listen, Abraham didn't deserve that. He was not a righteous man. Scripture tells us he was an idolater, living in Ur, worshipping the moon. And God snatched him out of that idolatry, and declared him righteous on the basis of what Christ would eventually do, through faith. That is justification. That is a righteous standing before the law. But notice what happens in Abraham's life. Turn over a couple of chapters to chapter 18. This man, who now enjoys a righteous standing before God is going to desire and pursue practical character and conduct that conforms to God's law. Look at verse 19. God says of Abraham ( this is Genesis 18:19) I have known him "I have chosen him (There is God's seeking him out, drawing him to Himself, declaring him righteous) so that (to this end. This sounds almost like the New Testament. A passage in Titus comes to mind here. I have chosen him so that here's what will happen) he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord" by what? doing righteousness. He has been declared righteous by God, and now there's a desire to do righteous. And that's why he was chosen. That's why he was made God's own. They always go together. You see this even in the book of Romans, the most doctrinal treatise on this reality of justification. Turn over to Romans chapter 3. Paul talks about this righteousness that's a gift to the believing sinner, verse 21. Here's the gospel, the heart of the gospel,

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested (been put on display) and it was witnessed by the law and the prophets" (In other words, this isn't original with Paul. This is in the Old Testament.) even (here's the righteousness I'm talking about) the righteousness of God (that comes) through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there's no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,(and therefore those who believe are) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

That word justify is another form of the word righteous. It simply means they are declared righteous as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. There's the first—a righteous standing before the law is given to the sinner by grace alone. But that's not the end of the story. Look over at chapter 5 verse 1. "Therefore, having been justified by faith,"

Paul is now making a change. He's saying, I was talking about how to get that justification, but now you have been justified, let me tell you the implications of that. Turn over to 6:17.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, (that's before you were justified, before you were changed, regenerated) you became obedient from the heart (at salvation) to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin you became slaves of (what?) righteousness"

Now he's not talking about being declared right with God. He's talking about a life that's characterized by righteous living. He goes on to say, verse 19. "I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as, (before Christ) you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, (you gave your body over to pursue those things, resulting in further lawlessness) so now, (now that you've been changed, justified, made new) you're members you are to present as slaves to righteousness resulting in sanctification." So you see these two go together and they always go together. So, then, to hunger and thirst for righteousness. When Jesus says you need to hunger and thirst for righteousness, it is to desire two things. It is the desire to have a legal, right standing before God, and it is the desire of a life characterized by the right kind of character and the right kind of conduct. It is both-and, not either-or.

As far as the first, a legal standing before God, that's what happens with the story Jesus tells of the tax collector and the Pharisee. You remember that story? In Luke 18 he says, you know, two men. . .well he begins by saying there were those he was talking to who thought they were righteous. That's an important part of the story. They thought they were righteous, and so He tells the story of these two men, a Pharisee and a tax collector. And the Pharisee, of course, as you know the story, he stands up and he says God, I thank you that I'm not like everybody else including this tax collector here. And he rehearses all of his righteousness. He thought he was. Then, there is the tax collector who won't even lift up his head to heaven to pray, which would have been acceptable for him to do, but he's so struck with his own sin that he won't even do that. Instead, he looks down and he beats his chest, and he says God, be merciful to me the sinner. You know what he was acknowledging? Unlike the Pharisee, he was acknowledging, I don't have righteousness, and I desperately need You, O God to intervene. That's hungering and thirsting for a legal standing before God that's righteous.

The other, to desire a life characterized by right thinking and right behavior is described for us in I John. Turn over to 1 John 2:29 "If you know that Jesus is righteous, (and of course we do know that) you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him"

You want to know whether or not you've been born again—whether you've experienced that radical change? Here's the reality. Do you practice righteousness. Now, we're not talking about being declared right with God. We're talking about having a life that is characterized by being and doing what's right, living in conformity with what God has laid out for us. He goes on to say, in I John 3:1

You see how great a love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God; such we are. (verse 2) . . .now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be, (but here and you just sense his heart yearning for this) we know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him.

He had this desire to be right, to think and speak and behave in conformity with God's will and God's law. And he longed for the day when that would be perfect. To be like Jesus is not to look like Jesus. It's not to have the personality of Jesus. It's to be like Jesus in your moral character, in your conduct. So the person who is in Jesus' spiritual kingdom got in by desiring the imputed righteousness of justification. If you're a Christian, at some point in your life, you became painfully aware that you were utterly lacking in personal righteousness, and you wanted God to give you the gift of righteousness, earned by His Son. When that happened, you became a Christian, when you sought that from God. But the desire for righteousness doesn't stop once you become a Christian. You want to have the righteousness imparted to you. You not only want to be righteous in your position before God. You want to be righteous in your practice. You not only want the alien righteousness of Christ credited to your account. You want the personal righteousness of thinking and speaking and behaving like Jesus. In the Greek text, back in Matthew 5:6. In the Greek text of that verse, the words hunger and thirst are in the present tense. Jesus is saying blessed are the ones continually hungering and the ones continually thirsting for righteousness. The consuming concentrated desire for righteousness is a never-ending reality in the life of a true Christian. Matthew Henry, the great Puritan commentator explains it like this. He says, "the righteousness the believer desires is this: all the spiritual blessings purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ conveyed and secured by the imputation or crediting of that righteousness to us, and to have the whole man renewed in righteousness so as to become a new person." This is the righteousness of which Christ speaks. It's both-and. Leon Morris puts it more simply. He says "How could anyone have a strong desire for a right standing before God without at the same time strongly wanting to do what's right?" That's a great question. How can you really want to be right with God and not care about doing right? They go together.

So, putting together all that we've learned from this beatitude so far, we could state it like this. Listen carefully. Spiritually prosperous are those who crave the gift of a right standing before God, and being and doing what's right before God, and those who crave it like a starving man craves food, and like a man who's dying of thirst craves water. Here's a spiritual test of whether or not we're Christians. Jesus said that only those who are starving for righteousness truly belong to His spiritual kingdom. And only those who are dying of thirst for righteousness belong to Him.

Now understand carefully what the test is not. The test that Jesus presents here of the desire in our hearts—the desire that marks a true Christian, is not–is not a desire to stop some dominating sin in your life. Almost everybody who has an enslaving or dominating sin wants out—even unbelievers want out of that sin. That's why there are secular twelve step programs. That's why there are secular sexual addiction clinics. They don't like to be controlled and enslaved by that dominating sin. That's not what our Lord is talking about. It's not the desire to which He's referring. Nor is it a desire to be respected and liked and admired by God's people in the church. Nor is it a desire to be consistent in the spiritual disciplines of Bible study and prayer and church attendance. Those are great things, but He's not talking about desiring those things. Because people involved in false religion and cults often desire those things. It's not a desire to be forgiven but to remain unchanged. Almost everybody wants freedom from their guilt, whether they're a true believer or not. They want forgiveness. God, give me forgiveness: just don't mess with the rest of my life. Let me do and live the way I want to live. If you want to test your desires to see if you're truly in the faith, don't look at those desires.

All of those can characterize unbelievers. Instead, ask God to help you honestly evaluate your heart to see if you find in your heart this consuming, concentrated desire. Do you have a consuming desire to have a right standing before God that is based solely on the life and death of His Son Jesus Christ? Do you have a consuming desire to be personally righteous and to do what would please God? Let me put it another way. Is the greatest desire of your heart to be holy? Charles Spurgeon said the greatest test of a man's Christian faith is, does he want, really, in every area of life, to be like Jesus. If you do, if you search your own heart as you sit there this morning, you have to say, I'm not what I want to be, but by God's grace I desire that kind of righteousness in my life. Then take heart. Be encouraged. Jesus says you really do belong to His spiritual kingdom. But if you have to honestly admit as you sit there this morning that you don't have this desire—and I'm not concerned with what kind of Christian home you grew up in, or how many prayers you prayed, or whether you read your Bible every day, or whether you try to come to church when you can, or whether you're involved and engaged in the life of the church. I'm asking, do you have these desires? Understand that if you don't, if you can't honestly say, as you sit here this morning, that you hunger and thirst for righteousness like we've seen it this morning, then understand that Jesus is saying, you are not in His spiritual kingdom. You don't belong to Him.

Now, turn over to Luke chapter 6, because there we see Luke's version of the beatitudes, and he gives us a little more insight. Luke 6:21. Here's the beatitude. Here's the positive side. Here's the fourth beatitude in Luke's gospel. Verse 21. "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied." But look at the opposite, the woe Jesus pronounced down in verse 25. Here is the opposite of hungering and thirsting. "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry" Jesus pronounces a woe. That's the opposite of spiritual prosperity. Jesus is saying you're going to face something terrible. You're going to face God's judgment. Jesus is saying that those who think they are well-fed now—that is, they think they're already righteous–or frankly they just don't care. They can sit in a message like this this morning and hear Jesus say you need to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and that's a sign of whether or not you're in My kingdom, and yawn and ho-hum, and when's lunch. What am I going to do this afternoon? So either, if you think you're righteous, or frankly you just don't care, Jesus says you will experience spiritual hunger forever. It's a sobering comment. You see, for all eternity, those who think they are well-fed will be spiritually hungry. One of the curses of God's judgment, in addition to the horrible description of hell itself, is that unbelievers will forever live out their existence enslaved to the same desires that have controlled them their whole lives, and that they've lived to satisfy. Jesus says you'd better enjoy those now, because you're going to be hungry forever. You will have those desires, and have them in abundance, and yet never once see them satisfied. Jesus' warning is a call for every one of us to examine ourselves. Do we have this intense desire for righteousness, a desire to (as Paul put it in Philippians 3) to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of our own. And a desire to be personally righteous, to be holy, to be like Jesus Christ in our character and in our conduct.

So far, we've seen two of the crucial details that Jesus reveals about this spiritual desire that marks every true Christian. It is consuming. It is concentrated, that is, it is the desire that's focused on righteousness, and there's a third and final detail Jesus reveals about this desire. It's in the second half of verse 6. It will be consummated. " Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, (for, here's why they are spiritually prosperous) for they shall be satisfied."

Jesus is again making it clear that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are not only in His spiritual kingdom right now, but He promises that they will be satisfied. That hunger and thirst for righteousness will be met. In fact, the word for satisfied originally referred to an animal that was put in a stall and force-fed to fatten it up. It literally was to be filled with food—to be stuffed, in the vernacular. Figuratively it means to experience inward satisfaction. And in the context, satisfaction brought about by actually having that desire for righteousness met. Jesus is saying, not only will you have righteousness, but you'll be completely filled with it. You'll be thoroughly satisfied—satiated. You say, when does that happen? Well, the answer is now, and in the future. Right now, it you're a true Christian you are already seeing some of that righteousness you desire, being produced in your life. You are slowly but consistently growing in being and doing what is right. If you're a true Christian, (and this is the biography of every true Christian) you're seeing—if I were to look at a section of your life, I would see a pattern-line of an increase of righteousness in your life, conformity to God's will and word. And I would see a decreasing pattern of sin. Oh, the lines might be jagged because they're not perfect in one way or another, but the pattern of your life would be increasing righteousness and decreasing sin. It's happening right now. So right now and for the rest of our lives here, we continually experience—this is what Jesus is saying—both desire, (we keep hungering and thirsting) and we experience satisfaction as well. You say, wait a minute. How can both be true? How can you both hunger and thirst for something and be somewhat satisfied with it? You understand this. Whenever you go to a local Mexican restaurant, you sit down and they get your drink order, and then before you have a chance to really decide what you want from the menu, the waiter brings a basket of tortilla chips, and a thing of salsa. Now, I know we are all going to show up in Mexican restaurants after this illustration, for lunch, here. But you understand this picture. You know, you go and you say to yourself, you know, I really eat too many chips when I come to a Mexican restaurant, so this time I'm just going to have maybe five or ten. I'll just have a few and then I'll stop there, and so you get your five or ten. You eat them and you enjoy them with the salsa, and you're satisfied—for about 30 seconds to a minute. And then, you say, well, you know, just five or ten more, that's all. I just, I won't eat as much as I normally eat, I'll just have five or ten more. And so, you have five or ten more, and this pattern of desire and satisfaction, desire and satisfaction continues every 30 seconds to a minute until the basket's empty and the waiter brings another basket. You know what I'm talking about. This is how it works spiritually. During this life, we experience desire—hunger for righteousness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, and God partially meets that desire. And we're satisfied for a time, and then we see something else in our lives, some other issue, and we desire righteousness in that area. God partially satisfies that desire, and we're happy for a little time. And then we see more in our lives, and it's this pattern. That's how it works in this life. It's a cycle of desiring and being partially satisfied. As Kent Hughes puts it, "our hunger increases and intensifies in the very act of being satisfied." That's how it is now, but in the future, that desire for righteousness will be perfectly and thoroughly satisfied. Then your soul will experience the same fullness of righteousness that your body experiences after your coming Thanksgiving feast. You will be satiated with righteousness. You will be like Jesus Christ. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied".

So, if only those who have this desire are in Jesus' kingdom, how exactly can you come to have this desire? Well, it's not natural. You're not born with the desire for righteousness. Nor is it self-created. You can't sort of work this up on your own. Remember the first beatitude? The same person who's here hungering and thirsting for righteousness is the very person who began by admitting his spiritual poverty. I have nothing. I have no righteousness. So, in other words, it is by grace alone that God creates the desire in the heart for righteousness, and it is by grace alone that God then satisfies that desire. It's all grace, from beginning to end. Righteousness is, from beginning to end, a gift of God's grace, and so if you long to have the desire that you don't have now, or you have the desire and you long to have it met, God is the only source. You cry out to God. But how exactly does God meet this desire? Well, it's only in His Son. It's only in Christ. Jesus is the only source where our spiritual thirst can be quenched and our spiritual hunger for righteousness satisfied. Jesus is the only water that will satisfy our spiritual thirst. You remember what He said in John 7:37 on the great last day of the feast? Jesus stood and cried out saying: "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink" Jesus is the only food that will satisfy our spiritual hunger. In John 6:35 Jesus said "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst". Jesus is the source of righteousness for us. What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 1:30. Jesus was made to us righteousness. It's all in Christ. So it's not surprising that the Bible ends with an invitation to the thirsty to come to Jesus. Look at Revelation 22 as we finish our time together this morning. Revelation 22. Here's how the Bible ends. Verse 16.

"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say Come. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take of the water of life without cost."

Jesus is the only place our spiritual hunger and our spiritual thirst for righteousness can be met. He's the one whose righteousness becomes ours and gives us a right standing before God. And He's the One who works true righteousness in us. And He said blessed are those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Let's pray together. Father, thank you for the clarity of our Lord's mind, for the profundity of His communication to us–so much contained in such a short statement. Father, I pray that You would work it in our hearts. Lord, I pray for those who are here today who have taken the test of desire and have passed. Lord, they see in themselves that by Your grace, they have this hunger and thirst for righteousness. Lord, encourage their hearts. Help them to see that they really are in Jesus' spiritual kingdom, that they belong to Him and in this life they will be partially satisfied with that righteousness, and someday they'll see Him face to face and be transformed into His image and be satisfied. Father I pray for those here today who, in spite of what they've said, in spite of their professions and claims and, Lord, what they've told others, I pray that You would remove the scales. Lord, don't let them look into the mirror of this statement of our Lord's and not see their true image before You. Lord, help them to see themselves as You see them, as Jesus sees them and, as one day, when they stand before You at the judgment, they will be manifest and revealed to be. Father may this be the day when they hear the invitation"Come unto Me, all you that are thirsty and drink." Father, may You work that in their hearts today. We pray it for the glory of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.