Blessed Are the Hungry?

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh                                                                                                             Luke 6:21 ESV

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

       Matthew 5:6 ESV

Sometimes we are a little troubled by differences in the Gospels. We ask ourselves which one is right, and wonder why, if both are inspired, they don’t say the same thing. I would like to suggest that both are right, but that they offer differing emphases so that we can get the whole picture.

A case in point is the difference between the so-called “Beatitudes” in Matthew (the better known version) and Luke. In both of them Jesus is turning the normal understanding of blessing right on its head. What is it to be blessed? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? It is to be “fat and happy.” It is to have all your earthly wants and desires to be granted. It is to be wealthy and healthy. Jesus, shockingly, says that is not the case at all. Look at Luke 6:20-22. Who is blessed? The hungry, the poor, and the mournful. What? Surely not! So we like Matthew (5:3-10) better because we think it says you can be rich but feel poor (in spirit); be fat, but feel hungry (for righteousness), etc.

But this last is not what either text is saying. They go together and are making at least three points. First, Jesus is saying that having our physical and material wants supplied must never be our first goal. Second, he is saying that, in fact, if you choose Jesus, expect not to have those wants supplied, a situation that applies in large parts of the world today. Third, he is saying that simply being physically and materially needy earns you no points. Being poor, or being hungry, in themselves are no blessing. But, if you are physically hungry because you are famished for Christ’s character to be reproduced in you, that is to be blessed, both now and throughout eternity.

Do you, do I, want to be blessed? Really? Fifteen years ago George Barna said that virtually all Christians agree that holiness is the goal of Christian life, but that virtually no Christians are actively seeking holiness. Am I hungering and thirsting for Christ’s character to be reproduced in me, at the cost of my physical and material wants? Or am I in this Christian business for health and wealth?

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