Good Friday Tre Ore, The Fifth Word: “I Thirst”

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“I Thirst”

John 19:28


            In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

            “After this, Jesus, knowing that now everything had been finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst’” (John 19:28).  Everywhere, in all sorts of ways, people and businesses are making the claim that they can satisfy your thirst.  From bottled water to soft drinks to beer, they all promise that your thirst will be quenched and your desire slaked.  But it’s not just various liquids; it is also any other thing that people might want.  Do you want money?  Get rich quick with this easy, 5-step process.  Buy a lottery ticket that could be worth millions.  Gamble away a few dollars because you just might hit the jackpot.  Do you want sex?  It’s advertised everywhere.  Get it without anyone knowing, anonymously, without consequences.  Do you want higher self-esteem, a better marriage, more obedient children, a more relevant church?  The books and the programs and the teachers and the preachers are out there, as easily found as Googling or Bing-ing your desired keyword.  But who can stop with the first jackpot, the first score, the first anonymous encounter; who has found the single, necessary parenting or marriage handbook?  Who, once they become dissatisfied with their current church, stops with the next or the next or the next?  No, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again” (John 4:13, ESV).  If you’ve desired any of those things, you know it’s true.  They will slay you before they satisfy you.  And that is because they were never meant to be ends in themselves, all our desires and thirsts.  They all, every one of them, point beyond themselves to another end, another goal.  If it is a sinful action, it is because humans or devils have distorted one of God’s good gifts and turned it into an addiction.  And another word for addiction is idolatry, because it’s the one thing you can’t live without, the one thing that keeps you going, the one thing that may, if it is not destroyed, destroy both your body and your soul. 

            We thirst, and we are not satisfied.  We sin, and our sin only makes us thirstier, like drinking salt water.  And so, Jesus takes on our thirsty flesh; He takes on our thirsty soul, and He pours out His eternal, quenching life from the cross.  He lets the life drain out of Him, all the way to the end.  And then, when it was all finished, the One who created water, whose Spirit hovered over the face of the waters, said, “I thirst.”  The One who said, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14, ESV), said, “I thirst.”  And all they gave Him was sour wine on a hyssop branch, which could barely hold the sopping sponge.  All they gave Him was mockery, and abandonment, and nails, and thorns.  All we gave Him were our dry, cracking, blasphemous lives. 

            And in return, He gave us water in our deserts.  It is no mirage, it is no heat-induced hallucination.  It is the very life of God in flesh, poured out onto swollen tongues and into distended souls.  He thirsts for you.  He speaks through the psalmist, “I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6, ESV).  He stretched out His hands to you, suspended by nails to a Roman cross.  And because He thirsted for us, giving us Himself, washing us in the water of His baptism, giving us His Word to drink, quenching our thirst with His own holy Blood, we say with the psalmist, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:2, ESV).  And He satisfies the thirsty soul, the thirsty body. “[H]e said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” (Revelation 21:6, ESV).  Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37, ESV).  “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1, ESV); come to the living waters that flow from the side of your God.  Come and drink, and be satisfied forever.  “Whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35, ESV), Jesus says.  “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,’” (John 7:38, ESV).  Which means that the Lord on the cross has poured out His Holy Spirit like water on us, so that we are bold to bring other thirsty sinners to the water of life. 

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’  And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17, ESV).  We are the ones coming out of the great tribulation, who have “washed [our] robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb…[we] shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore…For the Lamb in the midst of the throne,” the Lamb who was slain, “will be [our] shepherd, and he will guide [us and all the saints] to springs of living water” (Revelation 7:14, 16-17, ESV).

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

— Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 3/26/10  


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