As Jesus continues teaching His disciples, we see His progression unfold:
Poor in spirit / destitute (v. 3) -> mourning over our sin / broken (v. 4) -> meekness / empty (v. 5)
Jesus reveals the next step:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.“
(Matthew 5:6 ESV)
As we sit at Jesus’ feet in humble gratitude, we are at peace with God. But as grateful as we are for all that Jesus has done to clear out that heavy burden of sin in our lives, we long for that empty area of our lives to be filled.
Jesus uses the analogy of physical hunger and thirst to illustrate the intense spiritual desire we now have. When we are physically hungry and thirsty, it pretty much takes over our whole being – nothing else matters. This intense desire for physical nourishment was illustrated in Esau’s life, when he traded his birthright (first-born son’s blessing from his father) for a bowl of stew and bread (Genesis chapter 25).
Our spiritual hunger comes from a deep desire for God, a gnawing emptiness that only He can fill. We can try to fill it with other things, the “junk food” of life (sin), or even so-called “healthy snacks” of Christian activity, but we are still left with a deeper longing for our relationship with Jesus.
The psalmist expressed it this way:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”
(Psalm 42:1 NIV)
Jesus expressed it this way to the Samaritan woman at the well:
“Everyone who drinks this water [from the town well, where Jesus met her] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 NIV, bracketed text mine)
Later, Jesus expresses the same thing to another group:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
(John 6:35 NIV)
This hunger, however, presents a paradox: how can Jesus say that hunger and thirst for Him is a blessing? First, we must believe it because God said it. If we don’t believe what God says here, we will be off on our own reckless journey, seeking to fill that empty longing for Him with anything the comes along, or claim to be self-satisfied and have no need for Him.
Even Jesus had a single focus in His life, a satisfaction that came from His relationship with His Heavenly Father. When Jesus’ disciples returned with lunch, they encouraged Jesus to eat. His reply?
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
(John 4:34 NIV)
Secondly, we can know this hunger is a blessing by virtue of the satisfaction of our soul, the very promise Jesus made in this beatitude. Enough said.
Are we hungry for Him today? Have we been satisfied in the deepest part of our life, as only we can be through our relationship with Him?