cross looking up

Today’s Bible passage and an excerpt 

Read John 19:28 – 29

I am thirsty.

More thoughts for meditation

Jesus made seven distinct statements while he hung dying on the cross. This week’s daily prayer time has been a journey of allowing Jesus’ final statements on earth to be our statements, our prayers. We are using Jesus’ words to help us live more abundantly in the reality of who God is and who we are. We are also using Jesus’ words to help us develop a deeper relationship with God and each other. Jesus’ first three statements reveal how attentive and interactive God is, through Christ, to cultivate reconciliation with humanity. His fourth statement, however, acknowledges, from humanity’s perspective, that our relationship with God is broken. In that moment, Jesus’ humanity reflects our human nature of feeling alone, regardless of who or what surrounds us. Likewise, his fifth statement reveals humanity’s ubiquitous need for nourishment to survive and thrive. Jesus voices that he is thirsty and there is nothing he can do about it, as he hangs on the cross. He is completely dependent on another to help satiate his dehydration.

We can only imagine the internal thoughts Jesus had as he was dying. There is the suggested sentiment that “his life flashed before his eyes’, meaning he recalled various moments/memories that characterized who he was. As he uttered these three words, “I am thirsty”, did he recall meeting with the woman at the well? Did he remember telling her how he, Jesus the Christ, was the Living Water and that whoever drank of him would never thirst again? Did he remember the poetic plea of a psalm he most likely learned as a child that declares: “as the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God? My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1 – 2). Certainly the deity of Jesus was well aware of the desperation the psalmist declares on behalf of humanity – that is why Jesus came to earth, to respond to that longing and fulfill it. Psalm 42 questions, “When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2).

Did Jesus reflect on this line? His last statement on the cross, which we will soon pray in a few days (as our own statement) acknowledges that meeting with God has occurred. But until then? Jesus hangs on the cross, fully human, and fully aware of the oppression of being distressed and dissatisfied. Later in that same psalm, a more direct series of questions are asked both by onlookers to the psalmist and the psalmist himself to God: “Where is your God?” (verse 4b) and “Why have you forgotten me, God?” (verse 9b). We have already observed how onlookers near Jesus, as he was on the cross, asked this question and we have prayed with Jesus, himself, to ask God directly the same thing.

Jesus’ human expressions help us connect to our own human experience. If we are honest with ourselves (and with God), we experience dissatisfaction on a daily basis. The mere function of consuming food and drink satisfies our metabolic processes to keep going. Our stomachs may growl to get our attention that we are overlooking such need; and our mouths may become dry and our throats may even begin to burn, as definite clues that we are in need of water. We tend to these needs; otherwise, our bodies will begin to malfunction. In extreme situations of deprivation, death can occur. Jesus’ death was on our behalf – so that like the woman at the well, we can drink up Jesus’ salvation and be fully satisfied, forever. We can dive deep into his water, as the desperate and downcast soul depicts satisfaction in Psalm 42: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls. All your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalm 42:7).

Suggestions for Action

Pray: “I am thirsty”.

Let these words resonate in your soul. Then, as you sip your morning coffee or keep hydrated throughout the day (whether stopping at a water fountain or filling up your cup/water bottle) let your thirst be quenched by continuing to pray: “Deep calls to deep”. Let the experience of being human as well as being satisfied by God be your prayer.