On the surface it seems like such a mundane thing to say, hardly worth recording in Scripture. “I thirst,” Jesus says from the cross. Well, yeah. He’d been beaten severely, savagely. His back was ripped to shreds; blood was streaming from His head, hands, and feet. He had lost a lot of bodily fluid, and was therefore dehydrated. So of course He was physically thirsty. That sort of goes without saying. But Jesus wasn’t talking only about His physical thirst. He was thirsting spiritually for our salvation.
It happened with no prior warning. We came home from some out of town errands to find the fire hydrant across the street shooting out water. Not long after that, we discovered that our own water had taken on a nasty brown hue. It didn’t look safe to drink, and indeed, shortly thereafter the town issued a boil water notice. This sort of put a damper on normal household activities. I didn’t want to wash clothes in water that had dirt in it. Same thing for dishes. There was no way I was going to give the kids a bath in brown water. And drinking it was out of the question. Even after I boiled a pot of water, there was sediment in the bottom of the pot. I resorted to filtering the water, boiling the filtered water, and then filtering it again just to be safe. As one might imagine, this was a tedious process. Doing this to get enough water for doing dishes by hand (and rinsing them!) was laborious. But the thing I noticed most was how thirsty I was without an unlimited safe water source.
Have you ever been truly parched? This goes way beyond a simple thirst or the thought, “Hmm, a nice cold lemonade sounds good about now.” If you’ve ever experienced intense thirst, you know that it’s all you can think about. Your tongue feels swollen somehow, thick in your mouth. You may even get a headache. You can’t get your mind off of one thought: “Must. Have. Water.” Thoughts of getting that drink consume you until at last you are able to sip that wonderfully quenching liquid. Keep that thought in mind as we look at Jesus’ shortest word from the cross: I thirst.