Sermon: Guaranteed Satisfaction
Scripture: Matthew 5:6
In this week’s lessons, we learn of our need to hunger and thirst after righteousness, which only God through Christ can fully satisfy.
Theme: God’s Answer to Our Need for Righteousness
Ever since hunger drove Joseph’s brothers to Egypt in the second millennium B.C., and probably also before that time, crop failures and consequent hunger and starvation have been a chronic problem of mankind. Drought, wars, and plant disease have swept through history, leaving a trail of misery and death behind. And often little could be done to stop them.
Famine came to Rome in 436 B.C., causing thousands to throw themselves into the Tiber. Famine struck England in 1005. All of Europe suffered throughout the Middle Ages. Even in the nineteenth century, with its great advances in technology and commerce, hunger stalked many countries—Russia, China, India, Ireland, and others—and many died. Today in India, thousands will die of malnutrition and accompanying diseases, and hundreds more will perish in the nations of Latin America and other emerging nations. Hunger, like war and pestilence, has always been a bellicose neighbor to large sectors of the human race.
Unfortunately, physical hunger of some men is only a pale reflection of a far more serious hunger that affects all of mankind. It is a spiritual hunger, and it is satisfied only by God through the Lord Jesus Christ. St. Augustine spoke of this hunger when he wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee” (Confessions, I, 1). Jesus showed how this hunger could be satisfied by saying: “Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). This statement of Christ’s is the fourth beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, and it is God’s answer to man’s spiritual longing.
This beatitude follows in a very definite order upon the first three of Christ’s beatitudes. There is a sense in which it stands at the heart of this short compendium of Christ’s teachings.
The first three verses of the Sermon on the Mount have all pointed to man’s need and have shown the type of approach that is necessary if a man is to be made spiritually happy by God. The man who comes to God in spirit must first be poor in spirit. That is, he must recognize that he is spiritually bankrupt in God’s sight and that he has no claim upon him. Second, he must mourn. This does not refer simply to a normal human sorrow, such as feeling sorry for someone who is sick or dying. It is a sorrow for sin, and it implies that the one who sorrows must come to God for comfort. Third, the man who would experience God’s salvation must also be meek. This refers to taking a lowly place before God in order that one might receive God’s salvation. These beatitudes have all expressed a man’s need. Now in the fourth beatitude there comes a solution: if a man will hunger and thirst after righteousness, God will fill him with righteousness, he will declare him righteous, he will be justified before God, and he will embark upon the blessed and effective life outlined in the remainder of Christ’s sermon.
Does this verse touch your heart as an expression of all that is most precious in the Christian gospel? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes of this verse:
This beatitude again follows logically from the previous ones; it is a statement to which all the others lead. It is the logical conclusion to which they come, and it is something for which we should all be profoundly thankful and grateful to God. I do not know of a better test that anyone can apply to himself or herself in this whole matter of the Christian profession than a verse like this. If this verse is to you one of the most blessed statements of the whole of Scripture you can be quite certain you are a Christian; if it is not, then you had better examine the foundations again.1
You see, the verse is precious because it offers the solution to man’s great need by pointing to the offer of God’s greater remedy in Christ.
1D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), vol. 1, 73-74.
How does this fourth beatitude connect with the previous three?
What does Martyn Lloyd-Jones conclude about this beatitude, and why?
Key Point: Unfortunately, physical hunger of some men is only a pale reflection of a far more serious hunger that affects all of mankind. It is a spiritual hunger, and it is satisfied only by God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application: Review the beatitudes we have already looked at. How well do they characterize your Christian life?