'I am thirsty'

One theologian said that if you want to understand the length of God’s love through history, read Matthew. If you want to read the depth of God’s love in Christ’s suffering and rejection, read Mark. If you want to read the breadth of God’s love for the whole of humanity, read Luke. If you want to see the height of God’s love, read John - it’s like being taken to a mountain top so you can survey the whole scene. Of the four gospels, John’s is the most poetic.

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John’s description of events from 2000 years ago is rich in meaning. So when we hear the words of Jesus on the cross ‘I am thirsty’, we know that John is conveying something that Jesus said that had more meaning than simply a statement of the obvious. For John saw his friend as living a life of eternal meaning and significance. Jesus is the Word of God and therefore what he says and does is to be heard through history.

Earlier in the gospel, in chapter 7, we hear that ‘On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him”. By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.’

Using the imagery of water and thirst, Jesus speaks of a time, in which we now live, where we can come to Him and drink of the Spirit, in such a way that not only are we satisfied but it flows from those of us who have received towards others. This is, in essence, an invitation for us into the everlasting, abundant, overflowing love of the Trinity. 

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At the cross, these words of Jesus to ‘come to Him and drink’, find profound meaning beyond His physical thirst. The irony is that we are invited to come to the one who is thirsty and find streams of living water. How can this be?

Jesus put Himself in the place of physical and spiritual thirst to take our place in the consequences of our sin and separation from God. He thirsted so that we don’t have to. A sign of a Christian is one who knows their thirst for love is satisfied in God and from whom love flows into into a thirsty world, abundantly.

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About this time a year ago I was asked directly ‘Why is Good Friday good?’ For many reasons, but here we see clearly one. He took may place and I no longer need to thirst for God’s love. In Him your thirst can be satisfied too and the thirst of the world.

 

James Stevenson