After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said, "I thirst". John 19:28
One of the hardest things to hear as a pastor is that someone has stopped eating and drinking. A person who stops eating, but will still take a little fluid is going to die, but still may have time. Once a person refuses fluid or no longer is awake enough to drink anything, we know that they will soon die. Being thirsty, wanting to quench that dryness, is a sign of life, a sign of being. We can go a while without food, but we cannot survive for long without liquid.
When Jesus says, “I thirst”- we know that he is still alive. That Jesus, his body that is both human and divine, still has longing and need. He receives sour wine to drink, something that was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures. Does that quench his need? Are his dry lips moistened? Is his aching throat soothed? Does he still thirst?
What is Jesus thirsty for? Does he just want some water? Possibly. Probably. But he also has Living Water, as he told the woman at the well. The source of Living Water likely has a deeper thirst for more than just H20.
On that cross, Jesus looked out at the crowd and saw deep needs- things about which he’d preached, circumstances he’d repaired, a creation that longed to be reunited with God, but was unable to keep up its end. Jesus saw all of this and he thirsted… he longed for justice, for peace, for wholeness in community, for grace and mercy among neighbors, for healing in families, for a reformation of the religious system.
His spirit thirsted for wholeness in the world, just as his body longed for liquid thirsted for water or cool wine. This is how we know that he was still alive and that he is alive among us still because he thirsts. Our own thirsting is how we know that we are alive… alive in Christ.
Not just our longing for water, but our longing for peace in our world, for justice in government, for equality among people, for a desire to honor tradition and to support innovation. We are to thirst for these things because that longing is part of what it means to be living in faith.
To that thirst- the powers of the world will offer sour wine- discrimination based on race, sexual orientation or experience, gender, religious expression, ability, resources, or age. There is the sour wine of “deserve”, of “should”, of “not one of us”. All these things are sour wine… wine that humiliates and denigrates, that does not quench the thirst of the body or of the soul for the goodness of the kingdom of God.
The Spirit has pure, clear Living Water… the power of Christ… to quench these thirsts, but who is the cup? Who can satisfy these longings? The person who carries the Living Water in the cup of their skills and their calling. If we are not thirsting with Christ, we are close to dying. To thirst is to be alive. Feeling and seeking to quench the thirst of the world is to be alive in Christ.
Christ in our neighbor… our homeless neighbor, our gay neighbor, our neighbor of another color or race, our atheist neighbor, our fundamentalist neighbor, our neighbor without healthcare, our neighbor with a deployed spouse, our widowed neighbor, our neighbor with an unintended pregnancy, our neighbor in a wheelchair, our neighbor with a mental illness… Christ in that neighbor says to you… I thirst.