They say, “less is more” when it comes to playing music or preaching a sermon. Well, here it is in this painful deathly moment. Less words meaning much more.
Short, sharp words that shake the world. We hear John’s words last night, “And it was night”, describing the full wright of what was to come in the Garden. Now “I thirst” for what is about to happen today.
As it did last night, my mind turns to those other short, sharp, echoing words of Jesus at death taking his friend Lazarus,
Jesus knows thirst. Jesus knows the dark. Jesus weeps. He weeps for the weeping who have lost a love and that this dark death still remains unchecked, still seemingly in control of us all. But not for long now …
They are literal words for sure. Blood loss, trauma, heat, death drawing near … “I thirst”.
But they are more …
If there was ever two words from the mouth of Jesus in all of these words from him and about him in the story of his suffering and death, these words. “I thirst” seem to capture our times; capture us.
“I thirst”: words of absolute need and longing for a change, a new break, a return to something good, a new beginning, a tonic for the weary and worn soul, a return to something hopeful in all the sense of hopelessness; a new ability to keep on living in sure hope when so much is attempting to sit us down and ensure that we waste away in our own loneliness or lostness or both.
It has been a long two and a half years. Even though the main source of dry and worn spirit’s is abating (the virus), other dry winds of foreboding are blowing. They merely serve as a replacement for a continued dryness of our souls and continuing thirst for something good, something new, something filled with hope and joy and life itself to fully quench the thirst within and satisfy the world’s needy searching.
The cry of Jesus to anyone in earshot, anyone at all, even those destroying him, is a desperate call. God is desperate. He knows how we feel. He knows the dark night of the soul. He knows the loss. He knows the anger and he knows the thirst.
What are you thirsting for this Good Friday?
Justice for Putin and his oligarchs, Xi and his minions, clean water to wash away the brown mouldy mud that ran right through your house and your life this summer, an end to feeling totally exhausted, unnoticed, unknown or misunderstood, just some good news, good friends, good peace?
Are you thirsting for healing for that body not at ease, healing for those hurtful words said under the pressure of the vaccination conversation, the relentless spin and bad news and bad behaviour we see and hear daily and keep listening to for some strange reason.
Are you thirsting for something different in the world than the usual evil of hatred, greed, lust for power and destruction of the vulnerable people, the least deserving innocent people?
I share this thirst in lots of ways. Like cool, clear water in a stressful moment or exhausting afternoon I know I thirst for something light-filled, something together and connected, something calm and peace-filled and something deeply satisfying that enables us to call of the search and enjoy who we are and where we are again – fully.
Maybe you do, maybe you don’t? Maybe you are very well watered at the moment. Maybe you keep telling yourself you are anyway, even if you suspect you are not. It sounds better to be positive … Everyone expects you to be.
Maybe you are so thirsty that you are prepared to reach for anything or anyone to fill up the tank?
I believe the Word tells us that we all live in varying states of thirst – not just for water but for meaning and hope and love.
You and I are not alone. How the prophets, priests and kings of God’s ancient people thirsted, and how they called out the God for some relief, some refreshment, some renewal that would sink into their very bones.
Remember out there is the dry lonely desert a refugee nation on the move cried out to God in desperate thirst.
The great, Samson, after a huge triumph over evil people ends up on his knees crying to God for some water lest it was all for nothing.
The song writer sings of a deep thirst in our souls for God’s life,
Whether you are quite satisfied with the world and your life or you are absolutely unsatisfied with what is going on in the world and in your life, this Jesus knows the thirst at the deepest darkest moment we know – the moment of death.
Somehow, his Father’s promises about pouring living water into a world that is so very thirsty but at the same time so very blind to it manage to be in the front of Jesus’ heart and mind as death draws close and thirst kills him.
John tells us that
He sings those ancient songs from the heart. It is probably Song No 69 (Psalm 69)
And so they did, without probably even knowing that they were just doing what those before them and after them will do – cheapen this day, ignore this man, inflict more pain on people as we search for our own life; our own future, our own version of living … Turn this event that was won by a Saviour that began a whole new movement of love and hope in the world into a mere time to catch up or children’s story, or church observance that we have to make or whatever else we have made it …
Friend, hear of this event and this man of the cross speak from the cross of pain and thirst sharing your thirst and fulfilling God’s thirst for you. It is how his movement begins.
In this Jesus of Nazareth, I say what another song writer said about him:
To those now thirsting for something light-filled, something together and connected, something calm and peace-filled and something deeply satisfying that enables us to call of the search and enjoy who we are and where we are again – fully we say here it is; here HE is.
The one who thirsts is the one who satisfies the thirsty human heart and body in his own human heart and body on the tree.
Because he gives up living, we can keep on living because he enters death to disarm it and ultimately destroy it for us.
Take the pain. Feel the thirst. Look at this cross and this bloodied man dying. Hear him recall what it is all for – for deep satisfaction of your thirsty soul, both of which never end.
You need this thirsty man because you are thirsty and always will be.
And now let me speak a song that brings living water to my soul and millions more …
“I thirst” yes I do. And he knows … and he fills …