Sermon 6, blessed are those who thirst for righteousness
A. Have you ever been real hungry or thirsty? I don’t think most of us have gone without too often. Maybe we have fasted for a day or 2, and we felt some real hunger pains, or maybe some of you who lived through the depression have been hungry. But for most of us, we don’t know much about hunger or thirst.
B. I do remember a time when I was really thirsty. I had gone backpacking to the canyon lands of Utah, basically like hiking to the bottom of the grand canyon, but not quite the straight dropdown.
1. It was July, over 100, there were 4 of us, we had taken about a gallon of water each, and we had used it all up. When we reached our campsight, we were right next to the Colorado river, the only problem was that the river was so muddy that it was thick. It would take hours for the mud to settle to the bottom, it was basically undrinkable.
2. But it was July and 100, and we had just hiked 15 miles with packs on our backs. We threw in a purifying tablet, and drank the mud.
3. That’s as close to being really thirsty as I have ever been.
C. But what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?
D. I want to read to you a story from Max Lucado’s book, The Applause of Heaven.
1. “Mommy I’m so thirsty. I want a drink.”
Susanna Petroysan heard her daughter’s pleas, but there was nothing she could do. She and four-year-old Gayaney were trapped beneath tons of collapsed concrete and steel. Beside them in the darkness lay the body of Susanna’s sister-in-law, Karine, one of the fifty-five thousand victims of the worst earthquake in the history of Armenia.
Calamity never knocks before it enters, and this time, it had torn down the door.
Susanna had gone to Karine’s house to try on a dress. It was December 7,1988, at 11:30 A.M. The quake hit at 11:41. She had just removed the dress and was clad in stockings and a slip when the fifth-floor apartment began to shake. Susanna grabbed her daughter but had taken only a few steps before the floor opened up and they tumbled in. Susanna, Gayaney, and Karine fell into the basement with the nine-story apartment house crumbling around them.
“Mommy, I need a drink. Please give me something.”
There was nothing for Susanna to give.
She was trapped flat on her back. A concrete panel eighteen inches above her head and a crumpled water pipe above her shoulders kept her from standing. Feeling around in the darkness, she found a twenty-four-once jar of blackberry jam that had fallen into the basement. She gave the entire jar to her daughter to eat. It was gone by the second day.
“Mommy, I’m so thirsty.”
Susanna knew she would die, but she wanted her daughter to live. She found a dress, perhaps the one she had come to try on, and made a bed for Gayaney. Though it was bitter cold, she took off her stockings and wrapped them around the child to keep her warm.
The two were trapped for eight days.
Because of the darkness, Susanna lost track of time. Because of the cold, she lost the feeling in her fingers and toes. Because of her inability to move, she lost hope. “I was just waiting for death.”
She began to hallucinate. Her thoughts wandered. A merciful sleep occasionally freed her from the horror of her entombment, but the sleep would be brief. Something always awakened her: the cold, the hunger, or most often the voice of her daughter.
“Mommy, I’m thirsty.”
At some point in that eternal night, Susanna had an idea. She remembered a television program about an explorer in the Arctic who was dying of thirst. His comrade slashed open his hand and gave his friend his blood.
Her groping fingers, numb from the cold, found a piece of shattered glass. She sliced open her left index finger and gave it to her daughter to suck.
The drops of blood weren’t enough. “Please Mommy, some more. Cut another finger.” Susanna has no idea how many times she cut herself. She only knows that if she hadn’t, Gayaney would have died. Her blood was her daughter’s only hope.
A. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood,” Jesus explained, holding up the wine.
1. The claim must have puzzled the apostles. They had been taught the story of the Passover wine. It symbolized the lamb’s blood that the Israelites, enslaved long ago in Egypt, had painted on the doorposts of their homes. That blood had kept death from their homes and saved their firstborn. It had helped deliver them from the clutches of the Egyptians.
2. For thousands of generations the Jews had observed the Passover by sacrificing the lambs. Every year the blood would be poured, and every year the deliverance would be celebrated.
3. The law called for spilling the blood of a lamb.
4. It would be enough to fulfill the law. It would be enough to satisfy the command.
5. But it would not be enough to take away sin.
6. Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV) 1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
7. Sacrifices could offer temporary solutions, but only God could offer the eternal one.
B. So he did.
1. Beneath the rubble of a fallen world, he pierced his hands.
2. In the wreckage of a collapsed humanity, he ripped open his side. His children were trapped, so he gave his blood.
3. It was all he had. His friends were gone. His strength was fading.
4. His possessions had been gambled away at his feet.
5. Even his Father had turned his head. His blood was all he had.
6. But his blood was all it took.
C. Jesus once said - John 7:37-38 (ESV) 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
1. Admission of thirst doesn’t come easy for us. False fountains pacify our cravings.
i. False fountains of fame, possessions, passion, or romance
2. But there comes a time when pleasure doesn’t satisfy.
3. There comes a dark hour in every life when the world caves in and we are left trapped in the rubble of reality, parched and dying.
4. Some would rather die than admit it. Others admit it and escape death.
5. “God, I need help.”
6. So the thirsty come.
7. Not thirsty for fame, possessions, passion, or romance. We’ve drunk from those pools. They are salt water in the desert. They don’t quench—they kill.
D. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ….”
1. Righteousness. That’s it. That’s what we are thirsty for.
i. We’re thirsty for a clean conscience.
ii. We crave a clean slate.
iii. We yearn for a fresh start.
iv. We pray for a hand which will enter the dark cavern of our world and do for us the one thing we can’t do for ourselves—make us right again.
2. “Mommy, I’m so thirsty,” Gayaney begged.
i. “It was then I remembered I had my own blood,” Susanna explained.
ii. And the hand was cut, and the blood was poured, and the child was saved.
E. “God, I’m so thirsty,” we pray.
1. “It is my blood, the blood of the new covenant,” Jesus stated, “shed to set many free from their sins.”
2. And the hand was pierced,
3. and the blood was poured,
4. and the children are saved.
III. Jesus’ promise is all-inclusive: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisifed.”
A. We usually get what we hunger and thirst for.
1. The problem is, the treasures of earth don’t satisfy.
2. The promise is, the treasures of heaven do.
B. Blessed are those, then, who hold their earthly possessions in open hands.
1. Blessed are those who, if everything they own were taken from them, would be, at most, inconvenienced, because their true wealth is elsewhere.
2. Blessed are those who are totally dependent upon Jesus for their joy.