Saturday, April 4, 2015

"I Thirst"

"I Thirst"

(A Meditation on John 19:28-29)

"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."

    This fourth statement from the Cross is different from all of the other statements.  It is the first signal of physical distress from Jesus in the Passion Narrative.  It is only mentioned in the Gospel of John, possibly because John was positioned closest to the Cross and may have been the only apostle to hear this desperate, probably whispered plea.

     Some writers say that this statement is intentionally included in John's Gospel in order to announce fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy:  In Psalm 69, for instance, the Suffering Servant states "They gave me vinegar for my thirst."   This intentional statement from Jesus would fit John's portrait of Jesus as in total control of events. 

     Some feel this plea is inlcuded to demonstrate Jesus' human-ness - that he suffered a human, physical pain on the Cross.

     I wonder if Jesus wasn't giving us a clue as to where to find Him once His physical human being was no longer with us.

     We would find Him in people who are in need:  People who suffer an actual thirst like our brothers and sisters in Malawi whom missionaries from our church have helped build wells.

     We would find Him in people who are in need:  People who have a spiritual thirst for knowledge  of our Lord and Savior, a thirst for the Good News of our Salvation which was given to us by God through the exquisite sacrifice of his Son.

     The more I thought about "I Thirst", however, the more I was struck by Jesus' human-ness.  Growing up, my image of Jesus was from a Renaissance painting: halo, radiant garments, walking on water.  I can't help but dwell on the human Jesus.   Yes, He was and IS God, but the miracle is that He was also a very real and knowable man - a human who had feelings and experienced physical pain...   JUST LIKE YOU AND ME.

John also tells us that Jesus grew tired after a long journey...  JUST LIKE YOU AND I WOULD.

Matthew tells yus of Jesus' hunger after His forty day fast...  JUST LIKE YOU AND I WOULD BE.

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, His good friend who died before Jesus could see him one last time alive...JUST LIKE YOU OR I WOULD.

Jesus was thirsty after hours of torture and trauma, and relied on the help of strangers to help Him in his hour of need...  JUST LIKE YOU AND ME.

Jesus is God, but he was also very human...  JUST LIKE YOU AND ME.

He sacrificed his human life in a horribly painful and humiliating way...  FOR YOU AND ME.


(This Mediation was delivered as part of a Tenebrae Service at Fist Presbyterian Church, Lynchburg, Virginia on Good Friday, April 3, 2015)

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