Of the Seven Last Words, this is the shortest, only 2 words. But after reflecting on these two words for some time, I have identified 3 very different meanings to these 2 words.
First, I’ve always thought that this phrase of the Seven Last Words truly demonstrated Jesus’ humanity. He is thirsty. What could be more human? His journey to the cross has taken him several days. He has walked miles from the Upper Room in Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane, across the Kidron Valley into Jerusalem to be sentenced, back across the valley again to be imprisoned and scourged. Then to Jerusalem to be sentenced to death and begin his journey carrying the cross through the city. It was likely hot weather when he began to carry the cross through the dusty city streets, where he was spit upon, taunted, beaten and finally nailed to the cross and raised to hang in humiliation. Is it no wonder he was physically thirsty? So, why did he refuse it when they offered him a drink? For what else could he be thirsting?
Second, at the foot of the cross, there were only 3 people, his mother, Mary Magdalen and John, the disciple he loved. The apostles were hiding in fear for their own lives and the crowds who clamored around him begging for healing were nowhere to be found. In his book, The Seven Last Words, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen says it was not earthly water for which Jesus thirsted but for human love. He says, “The Creator cannot live without the creature, the Shepard without sheep, the thirst of Christ’s love without the soul-water of Christians.” He was thirsting for you and I. Sometimes I try to put myself at the foot of the cross. When I heard Christ say, “I thirst” I don’t think I ever thought he meant for me.
As I continued my journey, the third thing I thought was Jeusus was thirsting for his Father. I have been blessed, as many of us have, to be with someone of faith who is nearing their physical death. As they approach the end, they realize the inevitable is nearing and a great peace comes over them. They are closer to God than they have ever been and realize it is very good. During Lent we sing the Psalm, “My soul is yearning for you my Lord, my God.” Hopefully, we realize that what we have worked for our entire life is almost here.
Dear Lord, help me to always dig deeper into your Word to be able to understand the true meaning of your life and death, as well as mine.