What do you really need?
Sermon Title – What do you really need?
Sermonic Text - John 19:28-29
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ’I am thirsty.’ 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.
One of the biggest challenges we face in a post-modern, information driven, and technologically savvy society is the ability to distinguish between our wants and our needs. Indeed, most of us have hungered and thirst so long for the things we want that we now find it virtually impossible to delineate between our wants and our needs. We want fulfilling careers, beautiful homes, nice cars, scintillating spouses, gifted children and a lot of money in the bank. In short, we want to fulfill an American dream that is rooted in the pursuit of happiness and defined and defended by the carnality of capitalism.
Indeed, there is something wrong when America can spend over $500 billion dollars to fight a war against Iraq but we cannot seem to find the resources to feed everyone who is hungry, cloth everyone who is naked or give shelter to everyone one who is homeless. Did we ever really need to attack Iraq? If Iraq ever planned to launch a war against America I am convinced that after five years that is no longer their desire. Perhaps, now it is time to begin spending some of the over $340 million per day we spend on the war in Iraq to wage a war on poverty, inadequate health care and the mis-education of our children.
But, if our country is ever going to properly distinguish between wants and needs; as Christians we have to lead the way. What do we need to fulfill our God given purpose upon this earth? Are our needs radically different from the needs of Jesus and His disciples? Is it fair or even accurate to measure our needs to the needs of the people who lived during Jesus’ earthly ministry? Surely the needs of humanity must have changed over the course of the last 2,000 plus years. Well, Maybe … Maybe not
Have our needs changed or could it be that our wants are just radically different? And ... If in fact our needs have changed could it be that the change is due to problems caused by the unrestrained fulfillment of our wants? Perhaps, we need more landfills because we have filled existing landfills with the enormous residue of a materialistic society. Perhaps, we need more prison cells because we have created a society that wants retribution instead of restoration. Perhaps, we need more weapons of mass destruction because we value the generation and the protection of wealth more than we value protecting God’s creation.
Maybe just maybe if we focused more on the fulfillment of humanities needs and less on the fulfillment of our personal wants we would bring light into dark situations. Maybe if we focused more on the needs of humanity we would bring hope in the midst of despair. Maybe if we focused more on the needs of humanity we would bring joy where there was once sorrow. Maybe if we focused more on the needs of humanity we would overcome hate with love.
So in the ten minutes I have left. It is my assignment to encourage everyone under the sound of my voice to examine and realign their wants and their needs to the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom.
In the fifth last word of Christ, we find Jesus on the cross, beaten, bleeding and now seemingly dehydrated as He says: "I am thirsty" or for those of us like me who grew up on the King James Version of the Bible; Jesus’ oration is translated as: I thirst! Either way, Jesus is thirsty! For me this text initially presented a dilemma. How could Jesus the second person of the triune God be thirsty? How could Jesus the King of the Jews, indeed the King of Kings be thirsty? How could Jesus the living water be thirsty?
The Bible does not tell us how long it had been since he last drank some water? Was Jesus really appealing to his Roman captors for something to drink or is there something else going on?
I need you to remember … Jesus began His earthly ministry by fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and yet none of the Gospel writers indicate that he at anytime cried out I am hungry? So, now why at the end of his earthly ministry would Jesus, the living water cry out, "I am thirsty!"
During his earthly ministry Jesus seemingly never asked friend or foe for anything that would comfort Him. Yes, there were women and men who supported His ministry but I cannot recall a scripture in which he asked for anything from anybody so that he would be comforted and avoid pain. So why did Jesus tell the people around Calvary’s Cross that He was thirsty?
For the Bible scholars amongst us, I know and I acknowledge that when Jesus said, "I am thirsty" He fulfilled the prophetic scripture found in Psalm 69:21 when David lamented: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." But I believe Jesus’ cry of thirst goes beyond a pressing physical need or the fulfillment of a verse of scripture. I believe Jesus was sending a message to that society and to every society that would follow.
Jesus cried out, "I thirst!" not for His benefit but for the benefit of humanity! In my consecrated imagination:
I believe Jesus is saying… I thirst for people who will fight for justice in an unjust world.
I thirst for people who will feed the needy and stop being so greedy.
I thirst for people who will love their enemies until their enemies become their friends.
I thirst for people who desire to heal the body and the soul without any desire of vainglory or lust for wealth.
I thirst for people who desire to deliver anyone and everyone who is bound by depression or oppression.
I thirst for people who will not give up until they give their all to set the captives free.
Since Jesus is thirsty we should be thirsty too! Is there anybody in here who is thirsty to make a difference in an indifferent world?
Is there anybody in here who is thirsty to move from darkness to the marvelous light?
Is there anybody in here who is thirsty to share the "Good News" of Jesus Christ?
Yes, my beloved sisters and brothers I believe Jesus is still thirsty today because there is so much work to be done. There are still mountains of injustice that need to be brought low. There are still valleys of despair that need to be filled with hope.
The question is what are we going to do about it? Are we going to continue seeking to fulfill every want and desire of our heart as we follow the will of the false Trinity - Me, Myself and I? Or, Are we going to focus more on meetings the needs of humanity as we follow the true Trinity – God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?