This time of year there are so many big things to read in the Bible and think about and yet it is the little things, the small collections of words and phrases that serve to unlock understanding if we will look for and listen to them. For example, in John 19:28 we read, "After this, Jesus knowing that all was now finished, said, "I thirst."
These two simple words have stirred up more bad theology than any two words in the Bible. People conjecture what they think this means and we consume Jesus' humanity upon our neediness and wring application out of His life and death until there's nothing divine left. I've heard preachers consume these words upon their daddy wounds and make it about "Jesus thirsting for his father's acceptance" which makes no sense at all because Jesus began his public ministry with his Father announcing to the world that "this is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased." A few years ago I bought my wife a bullhorn for Christmas and asked her to follow me to the driveway and announce every morning before I leave for work, "This is my husband, who I love, with whom I am well pleased." So far she has yet to comply but I remain hopeful. I mean, who wouldn't want to live, work and be in that kind of environment? Sounds pretty accepting to me, don't you think? What's left to thirst for in that?
What I'm saying is that in these simple words Jesus' humanity and deity are both on full display and here is why. By this point in his journey to the cross he has been beaten beyond recognition and the blood loss is staggering. He is experiencing a consequence of severe blood loss, or to be exact, a severe loss of blood plasma known as hypovolemia. One of the symptoms of hypovolemia is severe thirst which is why Jesus says, "I thirst." If we can set aside our emotional neediness for just a minute and walk this back we can see the beauty of these two words more clearly. Here is what I mean...
First, Jesus is thirsty. Translation, he wants something he does not have and will not receive. This is why we misinterpret these words because if this happened to Jesus then what keeps it from happening to me? Nothing, it probably already has and will happen again to all of us. We will want something very badly and not receive it and this is not because we are being punished but because we are being conformed. Part of being like Jesus is not getting your way. Second, He is thirsty because of severe blood loss which begs the question, "How did he lose so much blood?" What we see is that sacrifice has never been an antiseptic process which is why the book of Hebrews says, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Thirsty Jesus, bleeding out on top of a stick...humanity at it's worse, deity at it's best.
Twenty-one days and counting,