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“I thirst!” What an incredibly human, pathetic, tragic and commonplace phrase in this dramatic scene of death. A human system deprived of liquid, enduring extreme torture and embarrassingly hanging bloodily from a tree dehydrates. No real mystery here.
The greater shock is the truly human bodily functions Jesus has while hanging here slowly dying. “I thirst!” is the complaint that any of us would have in the case of extreme blood loss and excessive violence done to our body. This is not miraculous teaching, profound words or wise aphorisms. This is an ascent to Christ’s body breaking down and it’s system requiring a drink.
I might have been standing there taunting Jesus, saying,
“Where are your angels to come and rescue you now, to wet your lips with water from heaven!” “I thought you said you where living water? You said that anyone who drank from you would never thirst again and here you are thirsty? You sound like the rich ruler who when burning up in hell asks for just a drop of water to sate his tongue.”
Yet, resentment at not having a supernatural superhero to save the day puts us always in the category of those who miss the point of Jesus’ life and death. It is the fact that Jesus suffers, like we do that is almost unacceptable to our minds about the divine’s interjection into our world. We constantly look for the miraculous amongst the weeds and ignore the blades of grass struggling to live in their midst. There is something beautiful about the common, the regular and the human. It is so beautiful that God sent his son to come amongst it and be a part of it. He was not above it as Philippians points out. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing.
There is a goofy story that I love about a customs guard on the Canadian border. One day he was checking people through the border and a man came riding a bike with a box of sand attached on it’s back carrier. The custom officer thought something was fishy so he decided to do a search. Combing the box’s contents he realized that there was nothing there. So, he let the man past.
The next day the same man came through on a bike and a box of sand on the bike’s carrier. He felt the same suspicion and searched the box to no avail. This time he decided to have the bike x-rayed but this yielded no result either. So, he waved the man past the border again.
This happened for a month and each time the border guard attempted some new way to catch this man in the act of smuggling. Body searches, x-rays, taking the bike apart and re-assembling it. Yet, it was all to no avail, the custom officer could find no contraband and let him across the border.
Years later, after the custom officer had retired, he was eating breakfast in his favorite coffee shop and reading the newspaper when in walked the man on the bike.
The custom officer stopped him and said, “Hey, I was that custom officer a few years back and you would always cross the border on a bike with a box of sand on it’s carrier. I knew you were a smuggler, but could never catch you. I does not matter legally now, since I am retired, but I have always wondered what you were smuggling?”
With a wry smile the man from the bicycle answered, “Oh, that is simple, I was smuggling bikes. “
Where are you looking for the divine today? Is it the belief that Jesus is some sort of spiritual talisman that arranges everything in your life? Could it be that he is a Harry Potter type wizard or a conjurer of magic?
No, Christ thirsts, like we thirst. We thirst for real and spiritual water. Christ reveals to us that there is no length too great that God will not reach to bring the possibility of resurrection into our lives, even unto death. Humanity is important to God. That is why our lives are worth salvation and regeneration. Looking in faith toward the Christ is an act of belief in a man who bled, hurt and had thirsts just like we do. It is this man where we seek salvation.
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