Sermon on the Mount Series – To Satisfy the Hungry

It is a wonderful feeling to be satisfied. Unfortunately, in this world, this is not the experience of many people. Many having obtained riches have confessed that they are not satisfied and still others who have obtained fame or pleasure are still dissatisfied. Thus one wonders what is it that can produce perfect and lasting mental and spiritual satisfaction.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who were hungry. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). The hunger and thirst after righteousness is the result of the spiritual experience of the three things Jesus had before mentioned. First there must be a recognition of spiritual poverty. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (verse 3). That leads to heart sorrow because of the sins that have been committed, which in turn leads to an experience of meekness or humbleness. The leanness and nakedness of soul causes a crying out after God and His righteousness. This soul hunger, Jesus said, is going to be satisfied. A good appetite is a sign of life and health. It is a very common experience for a person who is dying to lose his/her appetite and have no desire for food during the last few days of his/her life.

Only people who are alive hunger and thirst, while lack of appetite is generally a sign of failing health. Hunger and thirst lessen as life is diminished, but increase as life increases.

When a person dies, his or her emotions and passion for hunger and thirst cease altogether, while a healthy baby will have an appetite that seems never to fail. In fact, it often seems to be insatiable. This is not a bad thing; a good appetite is a great blessing, giving evidence of a normal, healthy body. Those who enjoy their meals have a much more satisfying life than those who eat only because they have to. A healthy baby is continually hungry and thirsty because it is growing.

Hunger and thirst are evidence of growth and development. No person can grow and increase in stature without food and water. Now this is true not only in the physical realm, but also in the intellectual realm. It is only those who hunger and thirst for knowledge who continue to grow in wisdom and develop in intellectual power. We owe a great deal in our world today to those people who have had an insatiable appetite for wisdom and knowledge. They have sought knowledge and invented and discovered things that have changed our world. But many people, if not most, lose their mental appetite early in life and then for the rest of their lives coast on what they have learned in their younger years, ceasing to seek to increase their knowledge.

Unfortunately, this is even true of many professional people—ministers, lawyers, teachers, physicians—people who you would expect above all others to be growing intellectually as long as life would last. But many die mentally long before they die physically. This is a great tragedy, but we live in a tragic world. Matthew 5:6 has a special reference to a person’s spiritual life and appetite but the same principles that exist in the physical also apply to the intellect. Hunger and thirst are absolutely essential to spiritual life and growth. The person who has no appetite for spiritual things is spiritually dead. The person with a poor spiritual appetite is spiritually sick. It is only the person who has a ravenous appetite for the bread of life and the waters of salvation and who greatly enjoys his spiritual food and drink who is a normal, healthy Christian.

Unfortunately, most professed Christians today are subnormal; suffering from spiritual malnutrition, they are spiritually weak and anemic. It takes but little spiritual food to satisfy them. They are particular and very picky about what they eat, when they eat, and who feeds them. Many are kept alive only because they are being spoon-fed, for they do not have appetite and energy enough to feed themselves. This is a pathetic situation, especially when there is a great spiritual banquet spread for all. This is not a problem only occurring in our time. The apostle Paul addressed this same situation to the Jews. He said, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12–14.

Those who are spiritually proud do not hunger and thirst for spiritual food, for they are already perfectly satisfied. They feel full and therefore have no appetite for more. This was true concerning the Pharisees in the time of Christ. They felt no need and did not receive any benefit from the bread and water of life that Jesus freely offered to anyone who hungered and thirsted for it. Before Jesus was born, the virgin Mary spoke about this very thing. She said, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53).

When Jesus referred to Himself as the bread of life and that only those who would eat His flesh and drink His blood would have eternal life, many were offended. It says in John 6:66 KJV that “they walked no more with Him.” It is for this reason that the first blessing pronounced in Jesus’ sermon is upon those who are poor in spirit, the ones who feel their need. They mourn over their spiritual condition. They are meek, hungering and thirsting for something they don’t have. Jesus said that their need will be fulfilled.

The condition of the Christian church today was predicted almost 2,000 years ago. The angel said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16). The church does not recognize its spiritual poverty; it does not mourn over its sins. It is not meek or humble, but proud and boasts of its spiritual wealth, even claiming to be rich and increased in goods and having need of nothing (verse 17). It is in a similar spiritual condition to the Pharisees in Jesus’ time.

Jesus Christ, the dispenser of the bread of life, is unable to feed the modern church because she has no appetite. Though she does not realize her condition, she is spiritually sick. Her condition is similar to that of the Jews in the days of Christ. He came to give them spiritual food and drink but found only a few who were hungry and thirsty. The spirit of the Laodicean church, Revelation 3:14–22, is the same spirit as that of Phariseeism. There is an abundance of food, but the church feels well-filled and already satisfied. So Christ knocks at the door of this church-temple in vain. He is not in the church; He is standing on the outside trying to get in. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Can you hear the Lord’s knocking at the door of your heart? He describes His people in the last days as being naked, yet at the same time going about as if on a dress parade. How can that be? The church has no divine covering for her sins, but she has provided for herself a garment made up of religious rituals. The Lord calls these garments “filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6, 7 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You.”

It could only be a person who is mentally unbalanced or who is drunk that could ever go about naked and not know it. But the Laodicean church thinks it is clothed. However, the filthy garments are unacceptable. Jesus says, “Come and buy from Me, white raiment that you may be truly clothed” (see Revelation 3:18). If they could only be awakened and be clothed with the garments of Christ’s righteousness, the wedding garment that prepares them to go to heaven, then they would be in a different condition. In the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, the guilty pair were ashamed of their nakedness because their garment of light had left them. Because they did not want to appear in front of the Lord naked, they sewed garments of fig leaves to clothe themselves, but the Lord did not accept those garments. Though Adam was wearing his fig leaf garment, he told the Lord that he was naked. The Lord then provided them with garments only made possible by the death of a symbolic lamb.

The Lord wants to do the same for the modern church as He did for our first parents. He wants us to realize our spiritual nakedness and then He wants to provide us with the righteousness of Christ that will cover us so that the shame of our nakedness does not appear (see Revelation 16:15).

Of all human cravings, there are none that are more powerful than hunger and thirst. Any person or animal who is hungry or thirsty will make every effort to obtain food and drink. Sometimes when people are thirsty and are lost in the desert they see what they think is water only to find it is just a mirage. But the water of life that Jesus offers is not a mirage. It is a well of living water as Jesus described in John 4:14. This is our great need in this modern generation—the water of life. We need a soul-hunger for the bread of life and thirst for the water of life, which is Christ and His righteousness because it is only the hungry and the thirsty that are promised to be satisfied.

If the modern church could be given a good spiritual appetite, she would not long remain in her present condition. The promise of Jesus is that if you are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, you will be filled and completely satisfied. The Bible records the story of Jesus Who spoke to a woman at a well in Sychar. He said, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.’ … Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water [this physical water] will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’ ” (John 4:10, 11, 13, 14).

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’ ” (John 6:35). But after He said this to them, He spoke the following mournful words, “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe” (verse 36). How is it with you? Do you want something you don’t have or are you like the spiritually proud people of all ages, perfectly satisfied just the way you are? There are millions of people that will never have eternal life because they’re satisfied just the way they are. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

Complete satisfaction is promised only to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The Lord makes the following invitation: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:1–3).

Complete satisfaction is still available; it is still waiting in our modern, wretched, poverty-stricken, naked church as soon as we awaken and develop an appetite to be revived and as soon as we want something better than what we have. Remember, the blessing is pronounced on the hungry: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). They will be completely satisfied. If you feel perfectly satisfied right now, it is time for you to pray and ask the Lord for a hunger and thirst like never before for something that you don’t have, something that will bring perfect and lasting satisfaction, spiritually, intellectually, and that will eventually result in eternal life. Jesus is standing at the door of the heart. He is knocking at the door of the modern church. He calls to the lukewarm, self-satisfied church, Come and get something from Me.

Revelation 3:18 says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” How is it with your life? Are you a Laodicean Christian and just lukewarm? Are you satisfied with your condition like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day? They refused His teachings; they refused His salvation, being satisfied with their own perverted religious system.

Jesus said, Obtain gold from Me. He’s talking, of course, about spiritual gold, not literal gold. With gold being so valuable, having it enables you to get anything you need in this world. Spiritual gold represents faith. Jesus said that if you have faith and believe in Him and trust in Him, everything is possible (Matthew 17:20). Also, if you have gold, you already have wealth. Gold equals wealth. Spiritual gold is spiritual wealth – the bond of perfection which the apostle Paul said is charity or love (Colossians 3:14). So spiritual gold is faith and love. Jesus says that is what is needed so you will not be so poor. The white raiment, which is the righteousness of Christ, is righteousness that no human being can generate. However, it is the righteousness required for entry into the kingdom of heaven, and, it is a free gift.

The eye salve is the spiritual anointing, the discernment that enables a person to see the wiles and deceptions of Satan and the ability to shun them, to detect sin and to abhor it, to see the truth and obey it. Do you have the eye salve? Can you actually see what’s happening in the spiritual world today? This is the great need of present-day Christianity. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” Christ is our righteousness. He says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37 KJV).

There is no other source of supply, friend. Jesus is the bread and the water of life. He is the only One Who can satisfy the deepest spiritual need of your soul, and He will, if you’ll open the door and let Him in.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.