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Beatitudes-Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)

Hunger and thirst are common experiences for every person.  Beginning at birth, every person is immediately aware of the body’s needs for food and water because of the physical yearning of hunger and thirst that cannot be satisfied without them.  These experiences of hunger and thirst occur over and over every day, for the body’s appetites can never be fully satisfied.  The body continuously hungers and thirsts because if it does not receive the daily satisfaction of food and water, then it cannot function properly.

In this fourth beatitude, the Lord pronounced the blessed condition of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Typically, we would not consider hunger and thirst to be blessed and happy conditions, for we would think of those who are hungry and thirsty as lacking basic necessities.  However, the Lord used the common experiences of hunger and thirst to illustrate how we must long for righteousness.  He was emphasizing the blessedness of having the desire for righteousness, which not many people have.  Everyone is aware of the body’s vital need for food and water, but most people are insensitive to the soul’s vital need to be right in the sight of God.  Those who are sensitive to their spiritual needs will seek for the way to satisfy them, and Jesus guarantees they will succeed in finding that satisfaction.

This beatitude was not the first time God’s word used hunger and thirst to illustrate man’s sensitivity to spiritual needs, nor was it the last time.  For example, notice how Moses explained God’s treatment of Israel in the wilderness in Deuteronomy 8:3:

“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”

God used physical hunger for food to teach Israel spiritual hunger for God’s word.  Jesus even quoted this passage after His forty-day fast when Satan tempted Him to make bread from stones (Matt. 4:4).  Another passage where the illustration of hunger and thirst is used is Isaiah 55:1-2.  In this passage, Isaiah prophesied the words of the Messiah:

“Ho!  Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.”

Of course, these words were fulfilled when Christ revealed the gospel to mankind.  Notice the fulfillment of Isaiah in Christ’s words recorded in the gospel of John:

·   “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’” (John 4:13-14)

·   “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” (John 6:35; see vv. 48-58 for more elaboration)

·   “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’” (John 7:37-38)


In truth, every soul needs the spiritual bread and the living water of Jesus Christ, but most people do not recognize their needs.  Their souls are starving to death without Jesus, but they are not hungry for Him.  There is a famine in the world for the word of God, but it is not like the one prophesied in Amos 8:11.  This famine is self-inflicted, for those who are starving refuse to eat of the abundant spiritual feast provided through Jesus Christ.  They do not “long for the pure milk of the word” whereby they may grow spiritually (1Pet. 2:2).  Truly, there is no shortage of God’s word, His grace, His mercy, or His forgiveness, but there is a profound shortage of spiritual hunger and thirst.

Therefore, we see the profound truth of Christ’s words, for it is indeed a great blessing to be hungry and thirsty for righteousness.  That hunger and thirst leads us down a path through the word of God to Jesus Christ, who provides righteousness in abundance.

Next: “Blessed are the Merciful”

Stacey E. Durham



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