Jesus’ first public sermon was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 5) and Luke (Luke 6). His fourth blessing from God, called the “Beatitudes,” that Matthew recorded was:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? What is righteousness? In the original Greek, “righteousness” is δικαιοσύνην, or transliterated, “dikaiosuné,” or “dikaiosýnē” (pronounced dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay) meaning “justice,” “justness,” “righteousness,” a “verdict of approval,” or more specifically, “God’s judicial approval.” So we can see, righteousness involves being just and on the side of right in God’s eyes, should we be judged.
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The first time it was recorded that Jesus spoke in front of a crowd, it was immediately following a night that he spent in prayer to God, apparently praying over which of his estimated 120 believers (Acts 1:15), called disciples, would be chosen to be the apostles that would help Jesus spread his message to the world after he died. In the morning, Jesus declared God’s decision on the 12 apostles and then all the disciples, the apostles, and a great number of people from all over Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon followed him, seeking healing from diseases and to hear what he had to say (Luke 6:12-19).
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After Jesus was tested by Satan in the wilderness, he went to back to his childhood home of Nazareth, a city in Galilee. Assumedly, he must have visited his mother, Mary, his father, Joseph, his half-brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas as well as his unnamed half-sisters (Matthew 13:55-56). In years past Galilee had belonged to the Jews – the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali – but because they did not keep God’s laws he gave them over to Roman rule and it was now home to many Gentiles. It was situated alongside one of two of the most important highway trading routes from Egypt to Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria and Turkey), a coastal route called the Way of the Sea. It was here that Jesus heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been put into prison. He then left Nazareth and went to Capernaum, which fulfilled a prophecy given to Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).
From that time on Jesus began his ministry to the Jews and Gentiles, preaching throughout the lands,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
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