Audio version at: https://youtu.be/0-GdamjSfWE
Three of the last seven words of Jesus, sayings from the cross, are in today’s lesson. They’re only found in John’s Gospel, and numbered 3, 5 and 6 in the traditional list.
Prepare to Listen. Use this prayer from Ps 116 to prepare to hear the gospel: I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Prayerfully Read John 19:25b-30
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. 28After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ 29A 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. 30When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“I am thirsty,” cried Jesus from the cross. This is the same Jesus who, three times in John, invited those who thirst to come to him and drink and never be thirsty again. How can the One who offered to quench our thirst forever become thirsty? How can Jesus, who gave living water, cry from the cross, ‘I thirst’? I’ll admit, I find it surprising, even shocking. But there it is, Jesus, on the cross, complaining of thirst.
John’s explanation is also unsatisfying. He said it was to fulfill scripture, but what scripture? There are two possibilities (Ps 22:14-15 and 69:21) but neither are an exact match. This mystery of what scripture, underlines the mystery of the Son of God, the one who is both fully God and fully human, and also thirsts. We’re pulled into the mystery of the Incarnation, of God becoming human flesh. Not mystery in the sense of a problem to be solved, but mystery in the sense of something far greater than we’ll ever comprehend or imagine or control.
Since John has a penchant for hiding spiritual meanings in literal matters, we need think symbolically, seeking a spiritual meaning in Jesus’ complaint. Hauerwas writes, “The work of the Son, the thirst of the Son through the Spirit, is nothing less than the Father’s thirst for us” . The Father thirsts to restore, redeem the whole world. Therefore, Jesus, as he stated to Peter at his arrest, was willing to drink ‘the cup’ his Father gave him (Jn 18:11), indeed thirsted to drink it to its final dregs, so that we may never thirst. His final cry, “It is finished,” is a victory cry. Did he no longer thirst? I wonder.
What do you think Jesus thirsted for? What do you thirst for today?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus you thirsted to fulfill God’s plan to quench our thirst, satisfy our desire for you, a desire we often ignore or fail to recognize. Make me aware today of my thirst for you and lead me to the right waters. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, with your thirst for God and salvation for the world.
 Hauerwas, Stanley. Cross-shattered Christ. 2004, p. 77 (emphasis mine)
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.