Fifth Word of the Last Words of Jesus on the Cross

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. ~John 19:28-29

 “I Am Thirsty”

When have you been thirsty? I mean really thirsty. This is not the kind of thirst that is quenched by a glass or water or a cold beer after mowing the lawn, but rather is this a dry, unquenchable thirst. The psalmist paints a wonderful picture of this type of thirst when he writes, “my mouth is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to my jaws.” Have you been thirsty like that?

Can you picture this scene? The Jesus’ blood and sweat pouring down his body. His body becoming weaker each time he exerts energy just to gasp a breath. His breathing becoming more and more labored. His throat parched from the dry air entering his lungs as gulps the air. And his dry mouth, making his voice hoarse as he murmurs these words, “I am thirsty.”

It is quite a paradox that the One who calls himself “spring of eternal life,” is the one who is now thirsty. That this One, the one who promises that “whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” and he said, “he who believes in me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living waters;” is now the one panting and begging for water.

Did some standing beneath him at the cross, hear his words and remember different days? Did some remember when Jesus changed water into wine at that wedding in Cana, so none of the guest would go away thirsty? Did some who heard Samaritan woman’s testimony about that Jewish man who met her at the well at noon, remember the words Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”? (John 4)

Or maybe some in the crowd heard recalled Christ’s words at the festival of Booths, when in the middle of the city, he loudly proclaimed, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water. “ (John 7:37-38)

And if there are any disciples who dare to be close enough to hear these words, perhaps they are reminded of the words Jesus spoke only a few hours earlier as they were gathered around a table enjoying a meal, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28)

Jesus has a deep thirst, a thirst that cannot be quench by water. His thirst is a thirst to see the naked, the stranger, the sick, the prisoner, the hungry welcomed. It is a thirst to see Jerusalem repent and turn back towards God. And it is a thirst to see the love of God accepted and welcome by each of us.

As you continue your journey through this holy week and as you begin to turn your eyes to the cross, may you contemplate Christ’s thirst and find the answer to your soul’s deepest thirst. Amen.


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