Good Friday Community Service – Prince of Peace Episcopal (April 3, 2015)
“After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty” [John 19:28].
“Make me thirsty, Lord Jesus!”
A single Greek Word in John’s Gospel: “dipso.” “I am thirsty.” [Jn. 19:28]. Sounds pretty mundane on the face of it, but there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye. There is a depth of meaning that no Greek dictionary by itself can capture—“dipso!” I am thirsty!
Surely, Jesus was physically thirsty; his lips, his mouth, his throat had to be terribly dry. How could it be otherwise? In prison overnight, his back lashed with whips, his head crowned with thorns, a cross over his shoulders from jail to Golgotha, hanging from that same cross for three hours. Of course, Jesus wanted water! On the cross, surely Jesus experienced sheer physical thirst, the kind of thirst we all would feel after a day without water in the desert. This is certainly true!
But let’s look deeper. In John’s Gospel there is always more than meets the eye. So, let’s take a meaningful look at what “I am thirsty” might mean in the larger context of John’s Gospel, and also, for us today!
Jesus was thirsting to bring to fulfillment an act of pure and absolute love. This act of love was the completion of the Father’s will. Therefore, I want to suggest today that Jesus’ deepest yearning was not simply for water; Jesus also had a thirst to accomplish what he had been born to do: to give himself completely for the life of the world.
Now, what about us? What about you and me today? Even in 2015, we are no mere audience on Calvary. Today we cannot simply be sympathetic spectators, sadly watching a good man die. Today, I want to suggest, we must be more than spectators. Calvary is today. Jesus thirsting must be our thirsting to share in the redemption shaped by Jesus on the cross.
I think of Paul’s words when writing to the Colossians. “I am rejoicing in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the church” [Col. 1:24]. As Christians, as followers of Jesus, it is our task to carry on his work of redemption, to bring his life to our corner of God’s world.
The only thing that makes suffering into sacrifice is what took place on Calvary on that first Good Friday. “God so loved the world” [Jn. 3:16].
As a community of Christians, as followers of Jesus the Christ on Calvary, our thirst must be to love the human image of God in today’s world.
This must be our cry of thirst today: to hear the weeping of the poor who have no hope; to take action for the homeless huddled in corners and alleys; to act in response to the stench of another dying; to work for justice in the world, for every person, for all humanity!
My prayer today is this: O crucified One, as you thirsted on the cross, make us thirst for the kind of love that brings life to the lifeless. Make us thirst for the kind of love that never makes us too busy to hear the cries of your most vulnerable children and adults. Make us thirst for the kind of love to help families torn apart from addiction. Make us thirst for the kind of love for the millions of refugees wandering in fear every day. Make us thirst for the love for children in this community who go hungry every weekend. Make us thirst to see your broken body in every suffering woman, man and child.
In a word, O crucified One, awaken your Spirit within us, inflame our hearts, that we may touch others with the flame of your love. Let each day begin with the profound prayer: “Make me thirsty, Lord Jesus…..for you.” Amen.