Lenten Reader | Day 40

It is Finished

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 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. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30
John portrays Jesus’ humanity more than the other gospel writers. The Word became flesh (John 1), so, Jesus grows tired after a long journey (John 4) and he weeps when his friend Lazarus dies (John 11). Here (John 19), Jesus is thirsty...again.

This cry, “I am thirsty” from the cross, takes us back to John chapter 4 when Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at a well. In their conversation, Jesus declared that anyone who drinks the water he has to offer will never thirst again (4:14). It’s hard not to see the irony: the One who quenches all thirst has become thirsty again.

Of course, the thirst Jesus promised to do away with was not a thirst for water but a thirst for God. The psalmist describes this yearning: As the deer longs for springs of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul was thirsty for the living God! When shall I come and see the face of God? (Ps. 42:1-2). Once we draw from the Well of living water, the longing expressed by the psalmist is fulfilled.

When Jesus says he is thirsty, is he really thirsty for water or for God? The answer is both. True to the nature of John’s gospel, Jesus teeters along the spiritual and the physical. His tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth and his soul is so parched it longs for streams of mercy. J. Ramsey Michaels writes that when Jesus says “‘I am thirsty,’ it can be regarded as this Gospel’s equivalent of ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Jesus was really thirsty for God.

Those around him, at the foot of the cross, do not understand. They attempt to appease his thirst with a sponge soaked in wine vinegar, but the only quench for his thirst is “drinking the cup” the Father had given him to drink and to finish his work (John 18:11).

Do you long for the presence of God in your life? Will you seek to do the will of your Father in your life to satisfy your soul?

Jon Welch