Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
In World War I, and the Battle of the Argonne Forest, the enemy surrounded the soldiers in my grandfather’s company. The Germans cut off their supplies. There was no water to drink except a clear brook located down the hill from the trenches. It was too dangerous to go down to the brook because the enemy killed the soldiers who tried. My grandfather got so thirsty that when he found a little rain puddle made by an indentation of a horse’s hoof, he drank it.
The thirstiest I ever remember being happened when I drove from the Grand Canyon in Arizona across the desert to Cortez, Colorado. It was summertime, and it was HOT. I became so thirsty my mouth was dry. I yearned for a drink of water. When I arrived at a filling station in Cortez, Colorado, the first thing I did was to get a drink of cold water.
In today’s world, there are a lot of people who do not know what it is like to be so thirsty they are close to starvation. William Barclay said, “In the ancient world, a Palestinian man ate meat once a week. Because of a Palestinian man’s meager wages, he was always close to hunger. Being thirsty was an even greater problem. In today’s world, we can turn on a water faucet and get water. In the ancient world, it was not so.”
The Lord has high expectations as to how He wants us to live. I hunger and thirst to be all God wants me to be, but I know I will always be seeking to reach that goal. It’s because of something the Apostle Paul said. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). For example, we fall short of God’s praise. We vary in our degree of sinfulness, but in God’s sight, there is no difference.
The self-righteous Pharisees were ignorant of God’s indwelling righteousness that was revealed in the Law. It wasn’t because the Pharisees were ignorant of the writings in the Old Testament. There wasn’t any legitimate excuse for them not to know what it meant to be righteous.
The Apostle Paul said, for being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their righteousness, they didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3).
John MacArthur has said (It was) “based on their conformity to God’s Law and often to the last demanding standards of their traditions. (For example), the disciples of Jesus were accused of eating with hands that had not been ceremonially cleansed. They had not been separated from the defilement (pollution) associated with having touched anything profane (godless). (The ceremonial cleansing) involved someone pouring water out of a jar on another’s hands, whose fingers must be pointing up. (If) the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step. He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down. Then each hand was to be rubbed with a fist of the other hand. (It was) the tradition of the elders.”
The extrabiblical laws and the Pharisee’s interpretation of the Scriptures superseded the authority of the Scriptures. Moses, “who (always) has been associated with the law of Israel, was the foundation of life and practice for Israel (Young’s Bible Dictionary). He did not command a person (to) to wash their hands before eating. The exception was the priests (Read Leviticus 22:4-7). The Pharisees and scribes were hypocrites (Read Mark 7:1-13).
Jesus said. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20). Jesus was calling His disciples to a deeper, more radical holiness than that of the Pharisees. The Pharisees favoured softening the Law’s demand by focusing only on external obedience. Jesus explains the full moral significance of the Law. Jesus was the example of the righteousness which the Law demands. It involves internal conformity to the spirit of the Law.
The words “hunger” and “thirst” are keywords in Matthew 5:6. We need to ask ourselves, are we hungry and thirsty to live the life the Lord expects us to live? The Beatitudes present the moral excellence that should be characterized by those who are ready for the kingdom (the spiritual realm of God). His believers are already a part of God’s Kingdom. However, it will be established on earth before time invades eternity.
W.A. Criswell says, “It takes the eyes of the soul to see God, ears of the heart to hear God. To those who are blind, He does not exist. To those who are deaf, He does not speak. To those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to feel, God, is present in glory (in worshipful adoration or praise) before us forever. A man who stands in the presence of God will find himself overcome with a flood of unworthiness and uncleanliness sweeping over him.”
Remember the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden? God had permitted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of any tree except for the tree located in the middle of the garden. The serpent (Satan, who is the real tempter), convinced Eve it was okay to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. But God (had told Eve), “You shall not touch it, lest you die. The serpent tempted Eve, even more, when he said, for God knows in the day you eat it, you will be like God. Eve ate of it, then she gave Adam fruit from the forbidden tree. Their eyes were opened, and they both knew (were aware), that they were naked (and ashamed). They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. They heard God’s voice walking in the garden. They tried to hide from Him (Read Genesis 3:2-7).
Remember the vision Isaiah had in the temple (Read Isaiah 6:1-7)? “Three things struck Isaiah about God. He was seated on a throne, He was high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple. God’s glory was evident between the cherubim (living creatures) on the atonement cover over the ark of the covenant. To Isaiah, the throne emphasized that the Lord is indeed the true king of Israel. God’s being ‘high and exalted’ symbolized His position before the nation. The Lord’s long robe speaks of his loyalty and majesty. The Seraphs, angelic beings who were above the Lord are referred to in the Scriptures only here. ’Seraphs’ means ‘to burn,’ possibly suggesting that they were ardent in their zeal for the Lord. As the seraphs cried out, Isaiah saw the temple shake, and then it was filled with smoke. The shaking (cf. Exodus 19:18) suggested the awesome presence and power of God. The smoke was probably the cloud of glory that Isaiah’s ancestors had seen in the wilderness (Read Exodus 13:21; 16:10). (What was Isaiah’s response to the vision)? Isaiah realized he was a sinner. Woe to me!” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament)
At the burning bush, Moses tried to hide his face from the presence of the Lord. Job tried to run away from God but couldn’t. With a repentant heart Job said, I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore, I abhor (detest) myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6).
Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord” (Luke 5:8). Saul, later known as Paul, was a persecutor of Christians. He had a repentant heart after he was blinded by the glory of the light on the way to Damascus. “Any time a man feels he is worthy, good, or righteous, he has not seen the Lord. He has never been in the presence of God, for the closer a man comes to God, the more sinful and unworthy he feels” (W. A. Criswell).
When I looked up into the sky, I had a vision of a kite high up in the air and a boy who was flying the kite. Suddenly, I knew that the boy represented me, and the kite represented God. The spool of string I held and was attached to the kite represented something I didn’t want to see. Suddenly, I realized there were many times in my Christian life that I was guilty of trying to control God. I confessed my sin. Then I told God that I “cut the string” to allow Him to be the master of my life.
Later that day I had another vision. It happened after I arrived at the parking lot across from a pharmacy where I needed to pick up a prescription. At that time, I had to use a cane or walker. For some unknown reason, the words just came out of my mouth, “Lord, I am going to walk by faith.” I left my cane and walker in the car. Then I walked to the pharmacy and back to the parking lot safely. When I looked up into the sky, I felt a bright warm shining light coming down from heaven upon and around me. At that moment, I knew I was standing in the presence of God. Tears of joy flowed down my face so heavily that I couldn’t see the pavement under me. A feeling of peace and joy came into my soul greater than I had ever experienced. Within, God changed me into a different man. Many fears I had before ceased. I became so excited to tell my story that I did not hesitate to share it with people who were willing to listen. What is amazing to me is when I shared my story only one person felt offended. It is almost eleven years since I had that vision. Today, that experience is still a real part of my life. Praise the Lord!
If you have done so many things wrong which make you believe Jesus does not care about you, or are you not happy with the life you are living; Jesus can change your life. The historical Jesus died on a wooden Cross for your sins. He arose from the grave to give you life. A life eternal.
Agnostics, atheists, and non-believers, who lived when Jesus lived on earth, have acknowledged His existence. There are extrabiblical documents archeologists have discovered which acknowledge Jesus died on the Cross and arose from the grave. In Him there is hope!
By C. Paul Wooderson