“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Jesus says: “The bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.” In these words is expressed a desire for the bread of life; but those who expressed this desire did not have that longing for spiritual life of which our text speaks. The true bread of life is found only in Christ. Those who do not recognize that the bounties of rich grace, the heavenly banquet, have been prepared at an infinite cost to satisfy those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, will not be refreshed.
“Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. . . . And this is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son [by faith], and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. . . . I am that bread of life. . . . This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. . . . Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. . . . It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
While sitting at Jacob’s well, Jesus uttered the same truths when speaking with the Samaritan woman. He said, “Whosoever 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.” The same truth is brought out again in the parable of the vine and the branches. Jesus says: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Christ is the vital principle by which spiritual health and strength and righteousness are imparted to the life, to be revealed in the Christian’s daily practice.
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are filled with a longing desire to become Christlike in character, to be assimilated to his image, to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment. We should ever cultivate an earnest desire for the righteousness of Christ. No temporal wants should attract and divert the mind to such a degree that we should not experience this soul hunger to possess the attributes of Christ. The command is, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Everything else must be subordinated to this end. We are not to be satisfied with the cheap, common things of daily occurrence. In witnessing the afflictions, the sufferings of humanity, and the prevalence of iniquity, we become heartsick and dissatisfied. It is unsatisfactory business to bring only wood, hay, and stubble to the foundation. When in trouble and affliction the soul longs for the love and power of God. There is an intense desire for assurance, for hope, for faith, for confidence. We would seek for pardon, for peace, for the righteousness of Christ. We long that a change shall take place in our circumstances, so that the trials of life shall not expose us to so many temptations. Every soul who seeks the Lord with the whole heart is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”
The soul hunger will be satisfied when our hearts are emptied of pride, vanity, and selfishness; for faith will then appropriate the promises of God, and Christ will supply the vacuum, and abide in the heart. There will be a new song in the mouth, for the word will be fulfilled, “A new heart also will I give you.” The testimony of the believer will be: “Of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. . . . No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
Christ was the representation of God. Beholding him we exercise faith, and affection entwines about him as seeing Him who is invisible. Without Christ the hunger and thirst of the soul would remain unsatisfied. The feeling of want, the craving after something not temporal, not tainted with earthliness and commonness, could never be appeased. The mind must grasp something higher and purer than anything that can be found in this world.
Jesus Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. The world’s Redeemer was symbolized in types and shadows through their religious services. The glory of God was revealed in Christ within the veil until Christ should appear in the world, and display to the world all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In Christ we behold the image of the invisible God; in his attributes we see the attributes of the character of the Infinite. Jesus said: “I and my Father are one.” “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”
Christ was crucified for the sin of the world, and after his resurrection and ascension, all the world were invited to look to him and live. We are enjoined to look at the things unseen, to keep before the mind’s eye the most vivid images of eternal realities, that by beholding we may become changed into the image of Christ. Christ is the mystic ladder uniting the earth with the universe of heaven, and as our faith lays hold upon him, we see him standing as our advocate, our assurance, our life. Unless we keep our attention fixed upon Jesus, Satan will intercept the bright gleams of light from the throne of God, and we shall lose the knowledge of the character of God as it is revealed in the ten moral precepts, and as it is seen in the life of his only-begotten Son. Satan constantly seeks to obstruct the view of Christ by placing a representation of himself before us; but unless our faith shall pierce his hellish shadow, and we obtain a view of the holiness of God‘s character, we shall be divested of our strength, and become purposeless, helpless, weak, and inefficient, the deluded prey of Satan’s temptations. We shall give to the world the strength of the faculties of soul, mind, and body, and deprive Christ of the service which he has purchased with his own blood.
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 8/29/1895