“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the Scripture), I thirst.”
John 19:28 (ESVUK)
Jesus’ cry from the cross, “I thirst,” can be interpreted at several levels. The most obvious one is that the harsh brutality of the crucifixion had inevitably taken its toll and Jesus was physically thirsty. But deeper meanings can be drawn out of this statement. Jesus was fully God and fully man. As fully God it was an expression of God’s thirst for humanity and his desire for humanity to be drawn into deeper relationship with him. Jesus had already predicted how that thirst would be played out in history on the cross, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). This thirst was not out of need but out of desire; for God is love.
As fully man, and as the representative of the whole of humanity, “I thirst” could also be an expression of humanity’s inherent thirst for God. Human beings often attempt to quench this thirst through the accumulation of material goods and a restless search for pleasure.
Lady Katherine Tait, the only daughter of atheist Bertrand Russell, philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian and author of the book, “Why I am not a Christian,” expressed this spiritual thirst slightly differently. She wrote about her atheist father that his “whole life was a search for God—Somewhere at the back of my father’s mind, at the bottom of his heart, in the depths of his soul, there was an empty space that had once been filled by God, and he never found anything else to put in it.” (1)
The good news is that God through the Holy Spirit and the Christian church gives an invitation to a spiritually thirsty humanity to freely come to fellowship with him through Christ and the work that he has accomplished. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Revelation 22:17)
Father, we thank you for all that Jesus Christ has done for us, and for your Holy Spirit and the gospel message given to us to reveal and satisfy the spiritual thirst we all experience.
Study by Eddie Marsh
Grace Communion, Sheffield
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