BLESSED ARE THE OBSESSED
The blessed one is the obsessed one. Yet his craving is a little unorthodox when compared to the rest of the world. Join us as we consider the fourth description of the Christian: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Message begins at approx. the 37:30 min mark
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 ESV
As we have made our way through these beatitudes we’ve used a template for our discussion. Each beatitude has two basic parts to it. The first part tells us who is blessed. Then we are given the reason why they may be considered blessed. Or, you could say, we’re informed how exactly they are blessed.
This morning we will utilize that same structure to address our beatitude. But I find it necessary to simply state one thing at the outset: We are not describing different kinds of people. There may be several different beatitudes, but they are not different people that are being set forth. These beatitudes are describing one specific kind of person, i.e. a Christian.
There are not some people who are poor in spirit and then there some other people who are mourners. Then over there you have another category of people who would be described as meek. These are all different ways of talking about Christian people. If you are a true Christian, then you are one who recognizes his spiritual bankruptcy. You are a mourner because you are grieved by your sin. You are meek because you’ve humbly submitted yourself to God.
So, as we work through these beatitudes, you are to be examining yourself. You should be saying, “Does this describe me? Is this true of me?” If you find that, after taking an honest look and comparison, you don’t see yourself lining up to what the text says, then that should give you reason to pause. You should question the legitimacy of your being a Christian.
On the other hand, you may be encouraged. You might say, “Wow, I find here something that really resonates with me.” It’s like Jesus is speaking to directly to me here. If that’s the case, then you can be confident that the blessings are yours and the name Christian really does fit.
And today we come to this fourth beatitude and we see yet another angle. The blessed one (i.e. the Christian) is one who is described as someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. It’s our goal today to examine this in some detail. And as we consider who the blessed one is, I want to make a few observations on what exactly Jesus says here.
I. Who are the blessed?
First, you will recognize this person of whom Jesus speaks is obsessed. To be blessed you must be obsessed.
Think about the metaphor Jesus uses. He’s used metaphorical language before. He’s talked about poverty of spirit to illustrate our spiritual bankruptcy. That was a figurative way of speaking. He does the same here. He uses the imagery of hunger and thirst. And that is illustrative of strong desire. To hunger for something means you crave it deeply. The idea of thirst means that you have a yearning of incredible proportions.
And you might say that these are the most basic cravings of life. Food and water are the most fundamental staples for maintaining life, besides air. This is the body’s most rudimentary and crucial needs. If the stomach does not have food, it will perish. Even more so with water. Life cannot be supported without these things.
And you’ll also notice that there is a doubling of the metaphor. He’s not just hungry. He’s not just thirsty. But there’s a hunger and a thirst. In doubling the metaphor there’s a sense in which the intensity becomes all that much stronger. You might say that there’s an urgency about it.
When you are deprived of one or the other, there’s an urge that comes over you to obtain it. But when you are at a loss for both, now your body kicks into a survival mode. You become all that much more driven for the satisfaction.
I would probably guess that not many of us have ever experienced true hunger. The kind where we’ve been really deprived. We may have fasted and have that normal twinge in the stomach where we’ve gone for several hours without having eaten. When that happens, you know how you get. You are on a rabid search for food. You start nagging mom about when dinner is going to be ready to be served. You ransack the cupboards to get a snack.
Now imagine being in a state of real deprivation. Imagine how much more intense the craving would be. There are testimonies of children in Madagascar who are starving because of the famine that has struck that land. They scavenge for leaves, locusts, and red cactus fruits so they can get by each day.
It really does become the all-consuming thing.
Walter Zwi Bacharach was a Jew who survived the Holocaust. In the film, Daily Life in the Concentration Camps, he gave an interview where he described the hunger he felt in the concentration camps. He said, “Hunger was the worst pain I suffered in the camps. It drives you mad. It is an excruciating pain. All you think about is food.”
There you see what Jesus is attempting to communicate by these images. It is the yearning, the craving, the intense desire that he is illustrating.
In sum, he’s talking about the obsession of one’s life. It is the chief objective of the blessed person. The moment he wakes up, this is what consumes him.
Yet it is not the longing for food and drink that he has in mind. It is the rabid longing for righteousness.
Here again we hearken back to the beginning of our study. The blessed man is said to be poor in spirit. We said there that he is spiritually bankrupt. He has no righteousness of his own of which to speak. But now having mourned and submitted himself to God, he eagerly desires to have it. He’s preoccupied with it and downright fanatical about it. He’s got to have righteousness.
Which brings us to our second observation. We can say that the blessed person is obsessed, but we also have to acknowledge that he is odd.
He’s a weirdo. You have to understand that this obsession with righteousness is not in any sense normal. At least not compared to most of the world around us. The attitude of the blessed man stands in stark contrast to what most people in this world are craving.
Most people desire something much more worldly. They desire wealth, popularity, or acceptance. They desire acclaim, recognition, and advancement.
They are after influence and power. They want to have their social media notifications lighting up and letting them know how important or how witty they are.
You can sum it all up by saying that they are seeking pleasure. That’s what the blessed life is to them. Blessedness is being happy and so pleasure is their pursuit. They have a dopamine addiction and so they are looking to fill their lives with the next goodie. They want a little more leisure, they crave another amusement, they are attempting to obtain the next thrill. That pleasure can be found anywhere: their job, a book, a video game, a relationship. It comes in many forms, but it boils down to an obsession with pleasure.
And this is what makes the blessed man odd. His passions are, you might say, a bit unorthodox. They don’t like up with the rest of the crowd. They are odd because their life’s pursuit is found in God.
Which brings us to the last thing we may say of the blessed man. He may be obsessive and odd, but he is outrageous.
That is to say his desire is crazy; it’s just ludicrous. It is beyond what might be called reasonable limits.
His craving is outrageous because he eagerly hungers for nothing less than Divine righteousness.
In the original language, there is one word that highlights this. As a matter of fact, it is a word that is probably missing in your English Bible. But a literal translation would go something like this, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for the righteousness.”
In the original language there is a definite article which specifies that this is a particular kind of righteousness. It is the righteousness in that it is righteousness of the highest order.
It is not a mere outward righteousness. It is not a righteousness that the Pharisees may have, which merely gives the appearance of piety or is wrapped in cloths of human goodness. Most of all, it is not the ugly and adulterated righteousness is produced by sinful men. It is the righteousness. It is the righteousness of God.
And that’s what makes it outrageous. Because it is a righteousness that supersedes anything he can manufacture. It can only come from God.
This is really what separates us from much of the world. Often I talk with people about their goodness and they are perfectly fine with this substandard, tattered knockoff that is man’s righteousness. People will say, “Well, after all I’m just human.” It’s as if they shrug their shoulders and throw up their hands and say, “This is the best I got and we have to settle for it.”
But that’s not the attitude of the Christian man. He desire doesn’t settle for anything less. He’s outrageous in the eyes of many because he demands absolute perfection. It’s name brand, top of the line righteousness. He yearns (craves, and is obsessed with) THE righteousness, and nothing else will do for him.
Does that sound like you? Does that describe the yearning of your heart? If you are a true converted man, then it should. And if it does, here’s the good news: your desire will be satisfied.
II. Why are they blessed?
That’s where we can turn our attention now. The second half of our beatitude tells us why this person is blessed. And here you will find that there are a couple things we can say about his satisfaction.
A. Certainly satisfied
He will be satisfied. Not he may be satisfied. He will be. It is a guarantee. He will come to enjoy the satisfaction of his craving.
And I point this out because it stands opposed to the craving of the world. I mentioned a moment ago how the blessed man is odd. His obsession with righteousness is radically different from the obsession of worldly men. They desire pleasure in whatever form. They seek happiness and make that the main objective of their lives.
But here’s the thing: they never obtain it. Happiness and pleasure will toy with them. They may have it momentarily, but it slips away all too quickly. And so while they get some thrills here and there, they are never really satisfied. They are always longing, but never enjoying any lasting gratification.
That’s not how it will be for the one who is pursuing righteousness. The promise is that he will be made happy because his desires will be satiated.
And that’s where you can say it’s not only a certain satisfaction, it is an instantaneous satisfaction. That is to say, the righteousness of God, which he eagerly longs for, is given to him the very moment he comes to desire it.
B. Instantaneously satisfied
This is the doctrine we know as justification. God gives (or imputes) the righteousness of Christ to you so that you may be declared righteous in God’s court and gain entrance into heaven.
This is exactly why Christ came into this world. He lived that perfect, righteous life that we could not. He gained for us all that we could not. He had no other gods before him. He never cheated or stole anything. He loved his neighbor with all his heart, mind, and soul. So there at his death, not one error could be found.
And the good news of the gospel is that those who long for “the righteousness” get it. The spotless righteousness of Christ is instantaneously credited to your account. You can rejoice because you have the righteousness.
But it’s not just that you are certainly and instantaneously satisfied, but you are progressively satisfied too.
There’s a sense in which your satisfaction is something which you get to experience over and over and over again, in ever growing proportions.
As a matter of fact our text could say, “Blessed are those who are continually hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” The words hunger and thirst are present active participles which indicate an ongoing activity.
And this is probably descriptive of you. Even though you’ve received Christ’s righteousness, you still see areas of your life where you are not righteous. You find your mouth speaking things that are very much unrighteous. You see your thought life riddled with worries and woes. There are certain things you do which you look back on and are frustrated because it’s not right.
And as a result you are seeking to fix that. You are taking active steps to change those patterns of sin and become righteous. You are working out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Let me tell you that that longing that you have will be satisfied. If you are striving against the flesh and seeking to become more sanctified, then you will not be disappointed. God will work in you to will and to work his good pleasure. More and more you will be satisfied because, more and more you will gain that righteousness.
That’s what sanctification is all about. It’s about that progressive change. It is about becoming more and more righteous throughout your life.
So your satisfaction can be said to be certain, instantaneous, progressive, and we might add to that full.
D. Fully satisfied
You will be fully satisfied one day. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in their lives (and in the world at large, mind you) will see God’s righteousness break into their lives in its entirety. There are many evils in this world that you are grieved at, and you long to see righteous laws; you want nothing more than to see righteousness pervade this entire world.
Guess what? You will be fully satisfied because one day Jesus will come again. This world will be rectified on that day. All that was ever wrong will be righted. And we will see what it is like to live in Paradise. And in that moment you will have the satisfaction you have longed for in its entirety.
The book of Revelation ends by talking about the new Jerusalem. And the city is said to be in the shape of a gigantic square. Each side is about 1500 miles long. It’s an enormous city. But it is a perfect square. It is emblematic of the holy of holies in the temple. The holy of Holies was the only part of the temple that was a perfect square. It represented the dwelling place of God, a place where there were no errors.
That city is a description of what the world will be like when Jesus returns. It will be a perfect place, wherein the righteousness will be the absolute rule. And there we shall be too, who have hungered and thirsted for it.