Monday, March 22, 2010

"I am thirsty"

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." John 19:28
Dr. Harold Brack of Drew Seminary taught, "when we are called upon to search a biblical text for meaning, we should not overlook the obvious. He felt that seminary students too often felt a need to conjure up some complex philosophical interpretation for a passage of scripture when there is an obvious meaning right in front of them. I think this principle is most appropriate for this fifth word. You should have seen all the philosophical explanations offered for these simple words: "I am thirsty."

It's as if we forget what had happened to our Lord on this historic day called Good Friday. Jesus was beaten and whipped thirty-nine times by the Roman soldiers. He had to carry an immense wooden beam up a long, winding road to a hill outside the city of Jerusalem. They did not stop for coffee breaks. It was a tough, grueling experience. He had probably had no water since 6:00 in the morning. He was placed on the cross around 9:00, and it was now around 3:00 in the afternoon. No water, a grueling trek, a hot desert climate, and people wonder why he cried, "I am thirsty."

As I learned in First Aid Class when I was a Children's minister at Fountain Valley First Christian, there are four stages of thirst. The first stage is that of discomfort. Everyone has probably felt this stage on more than one occasion. Most people at this stage get to a water fountain, or grab a bottle of coke or some other beverage. The second stage is one that I remember during days of Band Camp -it''s often called "cottonmouth." You can almost feel your tongue getting stuck to the roof of your mouth. Jesus Christ had endured a great deal and now, he cried out, "I am thirst." The third stage is extreme skin cracking and atrophy of the tongue and skin. The fourth stage is total dehydration. Water is essential for life. Jesus was carrying the sin of the world and he was thirsty.

As we take the next two weeks to commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we must not overlook something else just as obvious: when Jesus cried, "I am thirsty" he revealed his human nature. John notes that Jesus said "I am thirsty," not only as a statement of physical reality, but also in order to fulfill the Scripture. Though there is no specific reference in the text of the Gospel, it's likely that Jesus was thinking of Psalm 69, which includes this passage:


Their insults have broken my heart,
and I am in despair.
If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.
But instead, they give me poison for food;
they offer me sour wine for my thirst.
(vv. 20-21)


As he suffered, Jesus embodied the pain of the people of Israel, that which had been captured in the Psalms. Jesus was suffering for the sin of Israel, even as he was taking upon himself the sin of the world. It was a terribly, sad event.

As I reflect on Jesus' statement, "I am thirsty," I keep thinking of my own thirst. It's nothing like that of Jesus. Rather, I am thirsty for him. My soul yearns for the living water that Jesus supplies (John 4:10; 7:38-39). I rejoice in the fact that he suffered physical thirst on the cross – and so much more – so that my thirst for the water of life might be quenched.

"Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me enough to give yourself on my behalf. Help me to share my thirsty with other and seize every opportunity to be salt in the lives of those around me so they will also thirst for you. Thank you for being my living water. To You be the glory of all things. Amen."

You know I love ya - Don