Blessed: Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness - Matthew 5:1-2, 6
“Blessed.” What does it mean to be “Blessed”? We’ve discovered in our series that being “Blessed” is not about being “Happy.” Being “Blessed” is to find oneself in a fortunate, well-off, or privileged situation. Who are the “Blessed”? We have listened as we have journeyed through the Beatitudes to Jesus taking the world and turning it upside down in defining who is “Blessed.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus said those who realize that they are not self-made and are not self-reliant are blessed. Those who are blessed are those who realize that they are wholly and completely dependent upon God and find their identity not in what they have and what they do that are blessed. Why? Because they are already part of God’s Kingdom.
“Blessed are those who mourn…for they shall be comforted.” Jesus says that it is those who look into the world and find great sorrow at all the pain, suffering, and injustice that is out there that are blessed. Why? They will be comforted, their grief will turn to joy, because God is going to act and make everything right.
“Blessed are the meek…for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus does not say that those who are physically or militarily strong who will one day be inherit the earth, but that those who pattern their lives after Him, in true strength, serving rather than seeking to be served, forgiving rather than seeking vengeance, denying oneself rather getting everything we could. Jesus said it is those who are meek who, like the poor in spirit, find their identity in God and not themselves, who will populate the New Heaven and New Earth when God brings His fullness to dwell with all of Creation.
This morning we hear Jesus say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…for they shall be filled.”
Just as “Blessed are the meek” connected with “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” connects with “Blessed are those who mourn.” Remember, as I just said a while ago, those who are mourning are those who look into the world and seeing the injustice…I’m not talking about liking or disliking how a trial turned out, but looking into the world and seeing pain and suffering and I’m not talking about liking or disliking how some political issue has turned out. I’m talking about looking at the world through the eyes of Christ and weeping—seeing folks who do not have food while others toss half eaten meals in the trash, seeing folks without clean drinking water while others flush clean water down a toilet, seeing folks working in sweatshops while those enjoying the goods produced work in an air-conditioned high-rise, seeing children forced to fight in armies or turn to prostitution to survive while others enjoy their iPads by the pool. Jesus says those who see these things and mourn will be comforted, because God is going to act in the world and make everything right.
I would suggest that we can easily connect those who mourn over the pain and suffering in the world, with those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. When you see something that breaks your heart, for most of us, anyway, there is this natural desire to see things made right—so if we are brought to tears by what we see in the world, then we are going to hunger and thirst, strongly and overwhelmingly desire to see those things addressed. And in this blessing, we hear the words of Jesus that those who hunger and thirst will be satisfied.
It is not just by chance that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness….” As always, there is significance to Jesus' choice of words. What do you do when you are hungry? What do you do when you are thirsty? Do you sit around and wait for food or drink to magically appear out of nowhere?
No. When we are hungry or thirsty, we actively pursue satisfying this cravings. We get up and pour something to drink. We fix ourselves something to eat. If we don't have food or drink in our homes, we might go to the store to get the ingredients. What if we don't cook? Then we have to make an effort to get to a restaurant or somewhere where food or drink is already prepared. The point is, when we are hungry and thirsty, we don't just sit around and wait, we actively seek out satisfaction.
The same applies to those who hunger and thirsty for righteousness...those who are anxious to see the kingdom of heaven...to see God's new heaven and New earth before us.
I don't know how many of y'all are familiar with the movie associated with the clip opened with, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but in this movie, the main character, Flint, has seen the need in the world, and instead of sitting around waiting for everything to be alright, he set out to create inventions that would meet those needs--including a machine that would turn rain clouds into clouds that rained down food. Were all of his inventions a success? No. Did folks ridicule and make fun of him as he tried to solve the problems? Yes. Did it stop him? No. The point is that Flint actively worked to meet the needs of the people that he saw hurting.
Better than looking at Flint, though, is looking at the One who said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst...." Jesus knew that the day was coming when God would make right all that is wrong in the world, so did he just wait for His Father to act? No Jesus actively went about the work of the Father, revealing the Kingdom of God and making right those things that were wrong…feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, reaching out to those that society cast out, forgiving sin, and showing what it mean to live in the community of faith that makes up the Kingdom. Did folks ridicule and make fun of Him? Yes. Did He put His own life in danger? Yes. Did it stop him? No.
The truth of the matter is, my brothers and sisters, Jesus expects the same from us. He expects those of us living in the here and now that see the pain in the world and desire to see things made right to be the ones who are working to make it happen. Jesus desires us to make God’s Kingdom visible among us. Jesus wants us to be actively involved in Kingdom building, and tells us that when we are at work building His kingdom, that in touching the lives of those in need, we are actually touching him: “‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we say you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these…, you did it to me.’”[i] Jesus’ brother James echoes that feeling when he says, “If a brother or sisters is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?” We could also say, “If a brother and sister is in need and we look at them and say, “Stay strong God is going to make everything alright, and we do nothing to alleviate their suffering, what is the good of that?”[ii] Will we always succeed? No. Will folks make fun of and ridicule us? Yes. Will we find our lives on the line from time to time? Yes. Should any of this stop us? No!
Anyone who has hungered or thirsted and responded to the need has experienced the promise that Jesus offers as well. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” As I listen to folk who have responded to their hunger and thirst and met folks in their need, I have heard this promise come true. Whether it is a mission trip overseas or serving in Good Shepherd Kitchen or some other type of response, what I hear is that those who have provided the ministry say that they have felt ministered to—that their lives were enriched as they tried to meet the needs of those who suffered. It is in offering ourselves in the same way that Christ offered Himself in making the Kingdom of God seen here on earth, that we experience the satisfaction of the hunger and thirst.
Are you hungry, my brother and sisters, are you thirsty? Then do something about it…and Jesus promises that you will be satisfied.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen.