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Thirsting for the Water of Life

Derek Mattila | The Voice of Zion May 2024 - What Does the Bible Say? Article --

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. – Matthew 5:6

The word “beatitude” comes from the Latin word beatus, which means “blessed,” and one who knows blessing feels divine joy and happiness. In each Beatitude, Jesus describes the heart of a child of God and provides a promise with it.

What are the two parts of a Beatitude statement?

For this fourth beatitude, Jesus mentions familiar physical yearnings, common to all people. Hunger and thirst are temporal, bodily urges that we all have experienced and understand. We know that whenever we have gone without sustenance – food or water – for an extended period, our minds are consumed with filling the need. We will do anything in our power to end this longing. This metaphor adds power to Jesus’ statement.

God has blessed us in recent times with the possibility to listen to online services, sermon archives and songs and hymns of Zion from our personal devices. This is a great blessing of our time, because we know that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

How are you affected when you cannot regularly attend services?

I recall a time when as a young man, circumstances were such that my companions and I were not able to hear the Word of God for a while. Then, when we finally returned to our vehicle, we put in a tape of congregational singing. Our hearts were overjoyed to hear God’s Word even in poetic form, and we sat in silence listening to the sermons in song. Hearts had hungered for God’s Word.

Another time there was a different set of circumstances that prevented me for long periods of time from attending the gatherings of God’s children. My heart began to grow cold. I complained to my wife that I was not happy with the congregation we were part of, and I made excuses to not attend church, even when I had the opportunity: too busy, tired, things to do and so forth. Only God can open the eyes of one in such a condition, and He opened mine. The hunger to hear His Word and be in the assembly of God’s congregation returned.

Why does Jesus use an example of bodily needs?

God’s Word provides the daily manna for which our souls hunger. We need this manna every day; it is not something we can gather enough of to spread out over the weeks, months, or years. Matthew writes in chapter 6, verse 33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This seeking is not a one-time matter. A child of God always wants to hear with believing ears what the Holy Spirit teaches. We humble ourselves before our heavenly Father and the mother congregation and accept what they teach. Through faith, we own the righteousness of Christ; it is not our own to bring with us outside of God’s kingdom.

What does “being filled” mean?

When Jesus refers to being “filled,” He is referring to everlasting life. Jesus speaks in John 4:14 of the water of life. “But whosever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” We can think of a well. Getting water from a well requires work. We must lower the bucket, fill it, and pull the bucket back up. But this water of life is not available through works; it is given as a gift by faith in the merit works of our Lord Jesus Christ. It flows as a fountain in each believer, as the forgiveness of sins preached freely one to another.

When we endeavor in righteousness of faith, carrying a clean conscience, our faith will one day carry us to heaven, where we will never hunger nor thirst. 

Discussion Questions

• What is righteousness?

• Why might we hunger after it?

• How will Jesus fill those who hunger or thirst in the right way?

• How does righteousness, which is not any of our doing, nonetheless show in our lives?

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