Thursday, March 24, 2005

I Thirst

We are having a Good Friday service at our church...during the service, seven different people will be sharing about the seven last words of Christ...I will be sharing about his words, "I thirst. (John 19:28)" Here is what I plan on sharing (this will be a preview if you go to La Croix):

I thirst.

What was going through Jesus’ mind as he hung on the cross and uttered the words, “I thirst.”? Surely, he must have been thirsty, after all he had been through and now, hanging there in the heat of the day, with the dust from the roads caked on his lips and in his throat. Swallowing must have been a chore by now. Have you tried to swallow when you have been parched? Not the easiest thing to do. Jesus, well beyond parched, now lets it be known that he is thirsty. But was it simply the dehydration that he was experiencing that urged him to say this? Or was something else in his thoughts?

Perhaps he thought about the time when he sat at a wedding feast with his friends. When the wine ran out, Mary asked Jesus to do something about it. Although Jesus was at first hesitant – he did, after all, come for a different purpose than this – he proceeded to have the servants fill six jugs to the brim with water. You probably know how the story turned out – he miraculously turned the water into wine, 150 gallons’ worth! That’s a lot of wine. Maybe he was thinking about how good just one sip from that huge amount of water – or wine – would taste right now.

Or maybe he remembered how one night, he took a stroll across the surface of the Sea of Galilee, and called for his disciple and friend Peter to come out. And he did, walking across the water with him. Or another time when he was awakened by the disciples’ panicked cries to do something about the storm raging around their boat. And he shouted at the pounding rain and the howling wind and the crashing waves to, “Be still!” and they listened to him. If he can make the waves and the rain stop, surely he can make them start again to come and quench his thirst.

Possibly he thought back to the very beginning of his public ministry. Not the day he was born, or even the day that he taught the smart religious guys in the Temple when he was only twelve years old. No, the day he may have considered was the day of his baptism. How fresh the water was that day as his friend and relative John the Baptist lived up to his name and baptized Jesus. That kicked off a life and a ministry that would change the course of the world. But maybe he wasn’t thinking about all that. Maybe he just remembered the coolness of the water as it washed over and around him.

Or it could be that he thought back even further than that. Maybe he remembered how he created everything, how he hovered over the water on the earth, how he then separated the water above from the water below with a little thing we call atmosphere, and then formed bodies of dry land to separate the waters on the earth. John tells us that through Jesus, all things were made. He created everything. He created water. Surely he could create just a little sip to sooth his cracked lips.

And there was that woman. That Samaritan woman that he ran into in the middle of a day much like this one. He told her that he was thirsty then, too. Let’s face it; he and his band of disciples had been traveling quite a while. We don’t know if she ever gave him something to drink. But we do know that he told her that he could give her water that would ensure that she would never get thirsty again. He called it living water. She tasted of it that day and found that the Lord was good! But couldn’t Jesus now access that same thirst-quenching water so he wouldn’t have to be thirsty anymore?

Or maybe it wasn’t any of those. Maybe he was in too much torment to think about anything apart from his current circumstances. Maybe he realized that he needed to experience completely the agony of the parched lips and dehydrated body to go along with the other pain he felt so he knew in all its fullness the thirst we feel. Maybe it wasn’t his main intent at all to get something to drink when he said that he was thirsty. Maybe he said it for us. Maybe it was just one more way for Jesus to point back to all the things that were predicted about the coming Messiah – the Savior, the Anointed One, The Christ – and show how they pointed to him. Maybe he was reminding those at the foot of the cross how the writer of the Psalms prophesied that the Messiah would be given vinegar to slake his thirst, which is what they eventually gave to Jesus. Maybe this was yet another step that Jesus took to prove that he was, in fact, the Messiah. Israel’s Messiah. Our Messiah.

I thirst.

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