Lectio: John 19:28 – After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”
Contemplation: “I am, thirsty.”
Meditation: The use of imagery and metaphors by John in his gospel is central and essential to communicate the truths about the nature, person, and work of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God as well as the hidden inward dispositions of the human condition.
The purpose of John’s gospel is to present Jesus as the truth, the Son of God, sent by God into the world so that whosoever believes in him shall receive life. This new life is a different dimension that is present and abundant but invisible. Those that believe in Jesus can perceive the new reality through divine revelation, which then redefines them and radically re-orients their lives, their thinking, their values, their hopes, and their worldview.
This takes us to the first of Jesus’ sayings in the gospel of John, “I am thirsty.”
On one level, Jesus was physically thirsty. A human being can go for more than 21 days without food. As a general rule of thumb, a person can survive without water for about three days. By this time in the crucifixion process, Jesus’ state of dehydration is such that his kidney function is shut down. His tongue is swollen in his mouth. His nose is bleeding. He is beginning to hallucinate, soon to pass into a coma and die. So, of course, Jesus would be physically thirsty.
But, the word “thirst” as a metaphor, also implies a desire for a more profound and life-giving faith. For example, the woman at the well in chapter four of John’s gospel is thirsty for living water. The living water Christ offers is a life-giving and abundant faith. When she sets down the water jar, she sets down her old life and runs to share the good news that Jesus sees and receives her then sends her out to bear witness of God’s love in Christ by telling the world.
At the festival of booths, or the Festival of Joy, Jesus invites all that are thirsty for God’s provision to come to him and “drink” from him.
As Jesus is lifted up on the cross, he is drawing all people unto him. The sacrificial self-giving of his life on the cross is an expression of his love for us. His “thirst” is his desire that the world comes to him and drink from the life he gives: a life abundant that begins at the moment of belief, knows no end, an eternal life.
Prayer: I pray for the grace to thirst for the abundant and eternal life Christ offers.