Monday 10 October 2011

Jesus was thirsty

Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
John 4:6

The “sixth hour” was noon, the hottest time in the day when the sun was at its brightest. Jesus had been making his way back with his friends back from Jerusalem to his hometown, Galilee up north. It was a journey of 70 miles. By foot, it would take four days. And John tells us that Jesus was tired. He sat down.

“Will you give me a drink,” he said to the woman who had come with her bucket to draw water from the well. It was a scandalous request. They were alone (Jesus’ friends were off getting lunch). And she was a Samaritan.

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” she said. Even John, the gospel writer adds, “For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” Jesus asking this Samaritan woman for a drink was an unlikely a scene as the Pope auditioning for X-Factor singing Lady Gaga’s “Born this way”. It was the wrong place and the wrong crowd.

But Jesus persists. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.” Oh! So now you are offering me water! She probably thought Jesus was being cheeky talking about the “gift of God”. But she plays along. “Where can you get this living water?” she asks Jesus.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

Let me just say, this woman probably had no idea what Jesus was going on about: this water that becomes a spring “welling up to eternal life”. When she heard these words, she wasn’t thinking about God or heaven or salvation or religion.

But something Jesus said did connect. It was her thirst.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” For her, thirst was real. The searing heat of the noonday sun - that was real. Coming back day after day, with her bucket to this well, again and again - that was real. Whatever Jesus was offering may have sounded too good to be true. But what if it was? What if it was true?

We know how the story moves on(and if you don’t I encourage you to read it for yourself in Chapter 4 of Johns gospel): how Jesus confronts this woman not just with her need, but with her sin. Multiple failed marriages had left her empty and disillusioned. Shame over her current illicit relationship made her a recluse. Yet Jesus speaks to her honestly and tenderly of her true need for God; about her need for Jesus.

Physical thirst is given us by God to make us aware of a spiritual thirst. Jesus knew this first hand. He is fully God but through the incarnation he became fully man. John tells us he was tired from the journey. John tells us how he asks the woman for water.

But it is near the very end of the gospel, at the scene of the cross, that John tell us, Jesus was thirsty.

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:28-30

Psalm 69, verses 20 and 21 says, “Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” In his greatest moment of need - in his thirst - Jesus experienced abandonment, rejection and scorn.

“I am thirsty.”

And yet we read that Jesus said this “so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’” He bowed his head. He gave up his spirit. Jesus was in absolute control right to the end.

On the cross, Jesus took upon himself our rejection of God and our punishment from God. He took our thirst so that we would never thirst again.

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

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