Summary: This sermon is about spiritual thirst, seen in the light of Christ’s thirst on the cross.
Sermon for CATM – March 15, 2009 – The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross: “I am Thirsty”
John 19: 28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The experience of walking through the 7 Last Sayings of Christ on the cross is an overwhelming one. I’ve been in the congregation at this time of year over many years, listening to messages on this general topic a number of times.
This is the first year to my recollection that we’ve participated in an extended journey together through the last sayings of Jesus before His death and resurrection. Of course, walking through the sayings is really a devotional exercise of reliving Christ’s crucifixion.
And we’ve seen how, in short, concise statements, Jesus’ message on the cross has been a summary of his teachings in the three years before He went to the cross.
His first words on the cross are “Father, forgive them”. That, of course sums up the purpose for His coming to us. Jesus came to live among us, and die among us in order to restore our relationship with God.
His sacrificial death on the cross opens the door to you and to me for forgiveness, for reconciliation with God.
His words to the criminal who hung on a cross near Jesus and who asked to be remembered in heaven, Jesus words to this dying man were ones of profound comfort…”Today you will be with me in paradise”. That man was the first, as far as we know, to enter in to heaven under the new covenant.
Jesus’ words to his mother: “Dear woman, here is your son," and to John: "Here is your mother”, inaugurated the web of relationships based on faith in Christ that would become known as the body of Christ, the Church universal.
His words that we looked at last Sunday: “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me”, recall the reality and the moment when Jesus, separated from God the Father as He endured the wrath of God for the sins of humanity, cried out, expressing the violent sting of alienation from God as He who knew no sin became sin for us.
And today…today we encounter Jesus in a moment that might be the most understandable for us on many levels, because every one of us has known thirst. It is a fairly common human experience.
We have known that feeling of dehydration, we have experienced being parched. And, hopefully, we’ve known the relief of a drink of water.
We rarely think about water as intensely as we do when our body craves it. At others times, especially here in North American, we take water for granted.
For the hundreds of millions of souls who live in Africa and in other parts of the world, no one ever takes water for granted, for its value is understood every day and the devastating effects of its absence have been experienced by all on those continents.
So we can perhaps relate better to this statement on some levels than on others. The statement itself says some important things about Jesus…things that have helped the church understand the mystery of God in Christ. You see, the humanity of Jesus is deeply evident in the FACT that He would thirst.
At various points, during one of the many millions of random controversies about Jesus over the past 2000 years, some people tried to assert that Jesus was God but only APPEARED to be human.
Those people couldn’t believe that God could actually become human because, frankly, they thought that human flesh itself was sinful and disgusting and they would not believe, despite the clear gospel record, that Jesus was God incarnate.
Others couldn’t wrap their brains around the thought of God suffering, that divinity itself could suffer, so they asserted that it was only Jesus humanity that suffered on the cross.
Here’s WHY we need the gospel record: We are quite capable of altering, distorting, revising, reconfiguring the story of God.
There is something in human nature that fundamentally struggles with the revelation of God, more so regarding Christianity than any other religion, because in the Christian faith God reveals Himself perfectly and tells the actual story of God.
That is what we believe and that is what we based our life and our faith upon: That God was in Christ, reconciling the world to the Father.