God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. . . (Luke 6:21)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. (Matt 5:6)
Note that Luke has changed the order from what Matthew has. Matthew lists hunger and thirst as the fourth beatitude behind the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who mourn and then blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Luke makes this beatitude his second one and omits the words “and thirst for righteousness”. Also it is in the same form as the first one in Luke in that it is focused on the disciples. But in this one there is a hunger now but a future filling.
I think Luke has deliberately linked hunger with the poverty of the first beatitude. We discussed the disciples need to eat and thus the need to take handfuls of grain while walking through the fields. Luke appears to make this purely an issue of basic human need and removes the spiritual component from it. What Luke is doing here parallels Matthew’s purpose as well. He just doesn’t make it as clear as what Matthew does. It seems Luke is saying blessed are you NOW in your hunger but a time is coming with the consummation of the age and the commencement of the fullness of the kingdom of God when you will be filled with so much more than just having your physical hunger satisfied. Matthew makes a clear distinction between pure physical hunger and spiritual hunger. His focus on all beatitudes is spiritual. Luke makes his starting point physical, aligning with the feelings of the disciples in their current situation. It is like Jesus is reminding them, focus on your work for the kingdom and all the other aspects will work out. Now where have we heard that before? Note that Matthew in his fuller version of Jesus sermons picks up this aspect in Chapter Six.
This poses a problem that needs solving. Why does Luke miss out all this good stuff? It would seem that Luke should have included the words “hunger and thirst after righteousness” but instead he misses them out. Why does he do that? The contrasts between these two verses are huge. By two verses I mean the Luke 6:21 and Matt 5:6. Why are they so different? There is fuel for many Gems here. I really don’t know at this stage how long to spend on this. We could camp here for a long while like we have done with other verses during Gems. Sometimes because of the meaning of the word, other times because of the links there are behind it. In this case it is the contrast between these verses and what each signifies in its own right. I am going to pause here and leave the problem with you overnight again. Do some musing on it for yourself.
Do you realize musing is an interesting word? How much more interesting it is in the light of “amusing” or “amusement”. Have you thought before that amusement is the opposite of musing? Amuse is the negative of muse. We talk of something being typical or ‘atypical’, meaning it is not typical. To amuse is the equivalent of “not to muse”. To muse means to think deeply about something. To focus our time and attention on amusement prevents us from musing. So as I have said above already – muse on these differences between Matthew and Luke overnight. Don’t allow amusement to lead you astray.
Here is some more to ponder:
Why didn’t Matthew write “hunger and thirst after God”? Surely that is what it is all about? But no Jesus said hunger and thirst after righteousness. Be concerned first about God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. In Matthew, Jesus appears to be on a theme of righteousness.
- Matt 5:6 “How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, for it is they who will be satisfied!
- Matt 5:10 “How blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness‘ sake, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
- Matt 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness greatly exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!”
- Matt 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people in order to be noticed by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
- Matt 6:33 But first be concerned about God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all of these things will be provided for you as well.
Furthermore in our text in Matthew 5:6 Matthew writes hunger and thirst for “the righteousness” not righteousness, the concept; the idea of – but hunger and thirst for the righteousness. What does that mean?
And why does Luke by pass all this good spiritual stuff and focus only on poverty and hunger? It is all very fascinating. You do some thinking first. Why does Luke handle this passage like he does? What is Matthew saying? I will use your responses to determine how deep I go on this one verse. Maybe you are tired of spending so long camped on the beatitudes already. Tell me so. Tell me it is time to move on to other good stuff. “Ian we have spent far too long on this already. At the rate you go we will not be finished Luke and Acts before I die.”
More in the next Gem, but how much more depends on you.
Today we’re inundated with information, flooded with facts, & drowning in data while dying of thirst for true wisdom.Rick Warren
In your thirst for knowledge, be sure not to drown in all the information.Anthony D’Angelo
Knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way, wisdom is looking both directions anyway.Anon
The world is hungry for humble people with absolute confidence in God. Obedience, not ego, is the source of true confidence.Rick Warren