Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.
I have an incredible capacity for sweet tea. I carry a low-grade fever for the tawny nectar, and I even have a special recipe for how to make it. (You can sometimes get that special recipe in the CFC Coffee Shop.) The ice. The refreshment. I thirst for it in more than just the summer.
Thirst is a basic human signal. “You should drink now!” it says. You might be surprised to know that your own body is comprised of two-thirds liquid. We all need water to live. Jesus captured this image in a spiritual way during a conversation with a woman in the land of Samaria. Journeying through that land, he stopped by a well during the heat of the day and met a woman coming to draw water. What made this particularly strange was that women didn’t normally make their water runs at this time of the day. They came in groups to the well much earlier. We get the idea that she came at this time of day because she wanted to be alone.
Through divine insight, Jesus told this woman everything about herself. He revealed to her that she was looking for fulfillment in the wrong places. Her thirst was legitimate. Her methods of relieving it were hopeless, and she was ashamed. “Drink from the water I offer you and you will never thirst again.” (John 4:14-15) Who wouldn’t want that water? She certainly wanted it. No more running to the wells for temporary relief.
By contrast, John tells us later that Jesus, while on the cross, expresses His own thirst. And why wouldn’t He? The blood loss. The fatigue. The relentless suffering. He was dehydrated.
The Psalmist captured the final minutes of Christ’s life with this description: “My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.” (Psalm 22:15)
Ironically, the only One who could offer “rivers of living water” is parched and failing in body. Perhaps, however, His thirst speaks to an even deeper need, a longing for something restored. Just previously He had uttered the words “Why have you abandoned me?” Jesus was without that vital and sweet connection to the Father for our sakes. This communion, previously unbroken, sustained His life and mission. And it sustains ours. He thirsts so that we know how much He loves us. He thirsts because He knows how much we thirst. His thirst is there to guide our own. Don’t run to another resource. Quit wasting your time with temporary fixes. The best the world can offer is but vinegar. We have access to the wellspring of life.
We will celebrate communion together this weekend. Meditate on these passages as you prepare your heart to remember His sacrifice for us.