the fifth word

After this, knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28 CEB)

This fifth word is curious in light of Jesus’s repeated statements that he was the ultimate thirst quencher. “Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” was a claim that he made many times (John 4:14; 6:35). “If you’re thirsty come to me,” he said (John 7:37). The thirst quencher is now thirsty? This “I thirst” must mean more than simply that Jesus was, after all, not only divine but also human. In his saying, “I thirst,” we may be at the very heart of his divinity, that which makes Jesus God, one with the Father, and so very much unlike us. …

Maybe Jesus is talking about our thirst for our hunger. He says “I” thirst. Not you, not me. He said, “I thirst.” God Almighty, the son of the father is Thursday. The mocking soldiers offered him a sponge soaked in vinegar just to score him and his thirst.

But maybe he wasn’t thirsty even for water. Maybe he was thirsty for his righteousness’ sake. Maybe he was thirsty for us. Is not that a fair summary of much of Scripture – God’s got this thing for us? God is determined – through Creation, the words of the prophets, the teaching of the law, the birth of the Christ – to get close to us. God has this unquenchable thirst to have us. Even us. …

God’s in this fix, on this day, because God’s so thirsty for us.

William Willimon, Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words of the Cross, pp.53,56,59

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