Summary: Fifth Word of a Seven-Last-Words service, summing up the first four as Jesus’ thirst for others, for salvation, for God, and finally for His own needs. Gethsemane Baptist Church, Washington, DC
True spirituality is to know that we have needs. It is only those who pose as ultra-spiritual who deny their needs.
True spirituality is to need help, and to ask for it. Spiritual maturity means knowing when we are not adequate and knowing that it is all right to ask for help. It is only the spiritually immature who think they have to macho out of it and never admit they need help. The only issue is priorities. The only question is, "Where do we place our own needs in the scale of priorities?"
Some of us are too much in the pattern of doing everything ourselves. Have you ever said, "If you want to get a job done right, you have to do it yourself."? And so we stay up all night, doing some job we could have asked others to help us do. We knock ourselves out, feeling sorry for ourselves, doing something we could have involved others in, but no, we are too proud to ask for help, we are too self-centered to trust anyone else. Do you remember the old commercial for a headache remedy, the one where the younger woman snaps, "Mother, please, I’d rather do it myself!"? That’s where we are. We’d rather do it ourselves. We’d rather not ask for assistance. We are too proud to ask for help. No, let’s admit it: we are spiritual infants, too afraid that someone will find out that we are not together.
True spirituality means knowing that we have needs and asking for help. It is only the spiritually immature, who like to pose their spirituality, who will not ask for help. The only question is, "When is it legitimate to ask for help? Where do we put serving our own needs on the scale of priorities?"
"I thirst". The Lord Jesus is asking for help. Simple, human help. "I thirst’. As the afternoon sun bears down on His neck; as the searing pain of the nails tears into His hands; as His weight pulls relentlessly against His lungs; as the weariness creeps in and His body uses its energies, His mouth grew dry. Some of us, even in these dire circumstances, would have pretended that we didn’t need help. Some of us would not have wanted to give our enemies the satisfaction of knowing our need. But our Lord, truly human to the end, fully human and teaching us what it is to be real, voices His need. "I thirst".
Consider for a moment what He had gone through. Consider the thirsts He had already experienced. Thirsts of a different kind, but thirsts nonetheless. Consider His priorities.
As we have heard, He had thirsted first for forgiveness for sinners. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." His heart had thirsted and longed for forgiveness for the sin of straying humanity. Before anything else, forgiveness. Do you remember how He had thirsted for forgiveness for the woman at the well? She whose life had been so distorted and so twisted, she whose marriages were a mess and whose faith was so misplaced? Do you remember how He said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.”? Do you remember? He thirsted first for forgiveness for sinners. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
And then He had thirsted, next, for redemption for the broken. He had thirsted for healing and new life for those whose cases seemed impossible. To the thief beside Him, "Today you shall be with me." His heart thirsted for redemption for the broken. Do you remember the man who lay by the pool of Bethesda for thirty-eight years, waiting, waiting – too proud to ask for help – but waiting, waiting, within inches of the healing waters? Do you remember that He who was Himself a fountain of cleansing water reached out and healed that man? He thirsted for redemption for the broken. "Today you will be with me."
Oh, this Jesus thirsted. He thirsted for forgiveness for the straying and then for redemption for the broken. But notice that He also thirsted for comfort for His companions. For Him the needs of His friends were never too trivial. He thirsted that they might be comfortable. The third word from the cross: "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother." His heart thirsted for comfort for His friends. Do you remember that first of His miracles, when the wine ran out at a wedding feast, and they turned to Jesus for help? Do you remember that He took the water jars and turned them into fountains of gladness and celebration? Do you remember that He was not too busy, not too lofty, not too "spiritual" to pay attention to the comfort of His friends? He thirsted even for the comfort of His companions, knowing that He could satisfy every one of our human thirsts, even the need for companionship. "Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother."