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25Fifth Word: I thirst

Each day of Holy Week, we will post a devotional reflection on the 7 last words of Christ from the cross. 

“I thirst”

These last words only appear in John’s account of the crucifixion, which is significant. One of the most prominent themes in the gospel of John is the idea of living water.

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:13-14

“If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink” –John 7:37

John’s imagery of thirst speaks to human longing. We are desirous creatures on an undeniable quest for satisfaction, but sadly this has become a frustrating and futile pursuit. Everything we ask to quench this inward thirst leaves us thirsty again. As the Rolling Stones articulated so poignantly, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

If the Rolling Stones, with their limitless wealth, fame, and pleasure can’t find satisfaction, then we must ask is there any hope at all for satisfaction?

The cynic says no, but John says yes.

John reveals Jesus as the end of this quest. He is where our thirst is finally quenched. Augustine rightly says of God, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Well in Jesus, God incarnate, our restless hearts finally find their resting place. As it turns out, the Savior of our soul is also the Satisfier of our soul.

Now return to John’s description of the cross.

“I thirst”

The Satisfier of all thirst is thirsty. And what did he receive?

“A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.”

The Living Water cries out for water and is given vinegar, destined to die a thirsty death.

These are the costs of restoring our satisfaction in God.

When He cried out He was given vinegar so that when we cry out we might be given living water. Christ has not just died to free us from eternal death; He has died to give us eternal life.

When Revelation gives us a picture of that future eternal life, the imagery is God on His throne. And flowing from the throne will be the river of living water. And the last command of Scripture is to drink.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” -Revelation 22:17

Revelation says that the water of life is free, but there was an eternal price to be paid to make it free. Jesus died thirsty that we who deserve to be handed over to an eternal destiny of maddening dissatisfaction will instead spend eternity drinking down sweet living water.

Our future will have no disappointment, no displeasure, no discontentment, no sadness, sorrow, mourning, or grief; our Savior cried out “I thirst” so that those words will never be heard again.

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-Rev. Robert Cunningham (@tcpcrobert on twitter)

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