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After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
For me, being “thirsty” isn’t a big deal. My mouth becomes dry and I quickly find a way to quench my thirst. I open a bottle of water. Or I drink from a faucet. My thirst is quenched. Thirst, real thirst, is not something I have ever experienced.
And even though I know that hundreds of millions of people struggle today without clean drinking water, it’s hard to imagine that kind of thirst. After all, water, simple nourishment, seems plentiful.
So now, in the midst of my Lenten journey, as I think about Christ on the cross, the words “I am thirsty” seem odd. I wonder…of all things, Jesus just wants something to drink. Isn’t he God’s son? Couldn’t he ask for anything? Couldn’t he ask for more?
Of course, he could, but our Savior never abandons his plan for his followers.
Jesus wants us to understand the depths of his despair. His thirst is palpable. Fully God, yet totally human, his suffering and death are real. After all, Christ is sacrificing his life.
Jesus’ despair turns into fulfillment. Fulfillment of God’ promise to his people. In the depths of Jesus’ human pain, those three small words are intended to remind us of ancient scripture…“for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21).
Thankfully, Christ’s despair and fulfillment lead to hope. Because of Jesus, we will never be thirsty. As he taught the woman at the well, “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty” (John 4:13). Christ’s thirst, suffering and death lead to the fundamental hope of eternal life.
Let us pray…Savior Jesus, as we remember your thirst on the cross, please help us remember that in your despair, you never forgot your people. As you fulfilled the promise of scripture, you were willing to pay the ultimate price for our salvation. May we always remember the thirst-quenching hope that you promise in the water of eternal life.