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Bible study: Sermon on the Mount, pt. 4

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Blessed are the Starving and the Thirsty
Text: Matthew 5:6

(Jesus speaking) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

If you did a survey today, asking the question, “How does someone get to enter Heaven when they die?”, nearly 100 % of those surveyed would answer by pointing to self-efforts that would earn them favor with God, and therefore, entry into Heaven. I know this for a fact because I conducted such a survey several years ago. Moreover, the majority of the time I spent conducting this survey was outside of churches.

As we continue our study of the Beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount, we come to another characteristic, or mark that would clearly identify a person as being a follower of Jesus Christ. Before we do, it is important to keep in mind that these beatitudes represent an “upside down” way of life. They are the “salt and light” that Jesus wants His followers to be (Matthew 5:12-16).

By way of review, the Religious Leaders from the nation of Israel had fallen away from the doctrine of salvation by God’s grace through faith alone in the coming Messiah. Instead, they had tainted this pure, Biblical message by adding ceremonies and rituals. Moreover, they taught those to whom they had charge over that they can be made righteous by the external performance of these religious “requirements.”

Therefore, it must have been another shock for Jesus’ hearers, most of whom were trusting in these ceremonies and rituals, to hear Him say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? It simply means this: The blessing, or favor from God is upon those who have come to the realization that they have nothing good in and of themselves to offer to a Holy and Righteous God. They have come to the place in their lives where they have stopped comparing themselves with other sinners, and have been convicted of the fact that there is only one standard, God’s, and that we all fall horribly short of His perfect standard (read Romans 3:23).

All of us have gone a period of time without eating or drinking water, even if it was for all of one day. As much as our stomachs’ burned with hunger and as dry as our lips may have become, we knew that the satisfaction of our appetites’ was awaiting us. In the context of our text, Jesus is referring to those hunger for a Godly righteousness. Therefore, the authentic Christian starves for something he knows he does not have in and of himself. Having come to this realization, he abandons any hope in trusting in his own righteousness, and points by faith to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of his sins for spiritual satisfaction.

The Apostle Paul had something to say about this. In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul lists his “resume” of religious credentials. He was a highly esteemed Pharisee. He and his observers viewed him as a self-righteous “blueprint” for someone who was on his way to Heaven. But in Philippians 3:7-11, he confesses that it was all worthless, and counted his religious observances as well as his estimation of himself as loss and rubbish, so that he may gain Christ. In Philippians 3:9, Paul says, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law (from unsuccessfully trying to keep the Ten Commandments or in religious observances),but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Friends, none of us will ever be blessed by God and be truly satisfied spiritually unless we come to the realization that we have no righteousness in and of ourselves. How about you? As we have proclaimed on the authority of God’s word a few weeks ago, nobody is, or ever will be in Heaven that thought they were good enough and deserving of it. Before being exalted by God, you must become a spiritual beggar (Matthew 5:3), cease pointing to yourself, humble yourself, and run to the cross by faith. Our prayer is if you have not come to this realization, that you would hasten to do so. We care about our community and are here for you if you would like someone to talk to.

Steve Visconti