The Beatitudes follow a beautiful and logical progression. The first comes when we are confronted with God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3)
The Christian man, when faced with the law-word of God, is not the man in pursuit of an impoverished spirit. He is the man who now recognises his poverty. He does not set about to project an impoverished spirit. He does not project poverty. He acknowledges it.
This leads him to mourn and in that mourning, Christ comforts him with the gospel of grace, saying, “Neither do I condemn you, go in peace.”
All war, all disunity, is triggered by the assertion of the self. The meek are done with that. They are through defending themselves because they no longer see anything in themselves worth defending.
But, looking at the lives of Paul, David, Moses, Jeremiah and others, far from being evidence of weakness, meekness is evidence of power.
Meekness is not something we pursue, as such, it is something we are as a result of the Spirit’s work in our heart.
Which in turn produces hunger and thirst that was not there before.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)
That hunger and thirsting is not a desire for self-assertion, self-promotion, or self-abasement. We have been, and are being, emptied of all those things. We do not boast that we are good. But neither do we boast that we are bad. Instead, we boast in the cross.
They shall be full because they have been so emptied.
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All mankind hungers and thirsts for two things. Righteousness and the experiences or rewards that flow being on the “right side”.
First, righteousness. People want to be on the right side of their god, whoever or whatever it may be. They want to be on the winning team.
If the world is your god, then you will seek to be on good terms with it. You will approve the actions, desires and pursuits of the world in order to be included in its community. You will demonstrate you are one of the team by decorating yourself with the emblems of the team you identify with.
You do this because you want to be rewarded. This is the second thing we hunger and thirst for—the rewards. All of these gods promise some form of reward or satisfaction. They promise an experience, a way of life that they want you to believe will satisfy your hunger and thirst.
And so, having identified the god we think will satisfy us, we work hard to be approved by that god and all of its followers. We do that by participating in its form of life and worship. Whether its drugs, immorality, face paint, family, food, friendships, power or money.
All of these substitutes point to our deepest longing. Our need to be right with the one true God. We also want to experience God. We want to be on good terms with God and we want to experience a relationship with Him in all its fullness and joy.
Like all other aspects of the Christian life, this concept is woven into the very fabric of creation. I hunger and thirst and hunger and thirst, and am satisfied, again and again.
Our eating habits reflect the nature, promise and outcome of this Beatitude. Appetite and stomach and chocolate exist so that when Jesus came into the world and talked about our hunger and thirst for righteousness, we would know what He meant.
Food is eaten, it is transformed and it becomes us. And we become it. Moreover, nobody eats juts once. Our eating is ongoing.
And so we sing the ancient hymn,
“Ever filled and ever seeking, what they have, they still desire.
Hunger there shall fret them never, nor satiety shall tire.
Still enjoying, whilst aspiring, in their joy… they still aspire.”
Finally, tied to this appetite is the concept of communion. family and friendship, and this is what is ultimately what is on offer in Christ. Food, fellowship and satisfaction.
All of us who hunger and thirst to be made right with God are here promised to be satisfied. We are invited to come and lay our hand on the altar and say of Jesus, “Your death and resurrection satisfies.”
It satisfies God’s demand for righteousness, His demand for justice, perfection, holiness, mercy and love. The goodness of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone satisfies all of God’s demands and all of our hunger and thirst. Not through some abstract experience, but in the real enjoyment of food, fellowship and friendship with God, and with one another.