Things Jesus Said. . . and meant (5)

The gospel of John tells us while Jesus was hanging on the cross, he suddenly cried out in a loud voice, “I thirst!”

42 Lent--Holy Week--Words of Jesus--I thirst

Pondering these words of Jesus, I think of layers of meaning. In a literal way, Jesus is losing fluids at a tremendous rate on the cross (to put it mildly). The life force is literally draining out of his human body. In this sense, it is natural that he is thirsty. So some view the bible verse this way.

I also think of the rich symbolic imagery in John’s gospel. This is the writer who tells us  the story of Jesus being tired and hungry after all his ministry work, sitting down at a well, and asking the Samaritan woman to give him a drink. In their conversation, Jesus says he could give her living water (water that is like a stream, clean and  moving, inner “water” of the Holy Spirit).

While Jesus is talking with the woman, the disciples have gone off to get food in the village–and when they return, Jesus is no longer hungry (or thirsty) and tells them that his food is to do the will of God. (John 4)

It also in John’s gospel we hear Jesus cry out to a great crowd:

Let anyone who is thirsty, come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,
“Rivers of flowing water will flow from his heart.” *
 By this he meant the Spirit,
whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
Up to that time the Spirit had not been given,
since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  
(John 7:37-38) 

dscn6176--I thirst image from asinglgedropintheocean 3-17-2014Throughout the centuries, Christians have found the words “I thirst” to have deep meaning. Mother Teresa of Calcutta had the words written near the crucifixes in her convents. The words “I thirst” reminded her of many things: the way Jesus thirsts for others to come to him, the way Jesus thirsted in his sufferings in life and dying, the way her beloved poor people hungered and thirst, both in the literal sense and in the way people all over the world, including “the rich” thirst for love. 

Jesus thirsts to be close to us, to commune with us in the deep spiritual relationship of God’s love–even from the cross he thought of you and me. He was longing to bring about the reconciliation of heaven and earth, God and earthling.

And that is food and drink for further thought as we continue our journey through Holy Week.

Until next time, Amen! 

 

*  For example, see Isaiah 12:3.
** Read more about Mother Teresa’s “I Thirst” image, with thanks to “A Drop In the Ocean” website: http://asingledropintheocean.com/2014/03/17/my-week-serving-the-poor-of-st-louis-with-the-missionaries-of-charity-mother-teresa/

Living Water, Holy Spirit, and Solitude at an Iowa Stream

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now he said this about the Spirit which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  (John 7:37-39)

Wolf Creek--photo by Julie McCarty--Note: click on photo to enlarge

Flowing water fascinates me. When I was a little girl, my best friend had a house with a creek flowing near her house, and we would play for hours within and around the water.

Jesus tells us that he is the living water that satisfies all our deepest longings. The Spirit is flowing in Christ, flowing through him to everyone around him.

What surprises me when I read this passage today is the part about the water of the Spirit flowing out of those who believe in Christ. In all the times I heard this passage proclaimed at church, I never noticed that part. Here’s what the footnote in my bible says:

Jesus is the true water of life, who turns the symbol into reality. . . Believers become channels of life to others, through Christ’s Spirit given at Pentecost after he was glorified (crucified, risen, ascended).    –From the Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV.

Not only was Christ both human and divine, his human side was a channel of the Holy Spirit–and we, too, are called to be channels of the Holy Spirit, flowing out to give to others in abundance.

Today I am offering you a gift that relates to this meditation: a 2 minute escape from your present work into the environment of a flowing, modern day stream named Wolf Creek. This is a very short video I took on a recent trip to our favorite country getaway in the rolling hills of northeastern Iowa, the “Morning Mist Cabin” owned by Larry and Jo Thein. (Thanks to them for letting us share it, and thanks to my husband Terry for his techie expertise in getting it setup on YouTube.)

As you watch this video, you might want to just enjoy the ability to getaway for a moment from the busyness of daily life, taking in the sights and sounds of God’s creation in nature. You might consider Jesus, the Living Water, and how the Spirit is the water that flows through you to others. Or maybe you just want to wait and see what the Spirit might inspire in you this day.

Note: You can enlarge the picture using the little box with four arrows in the bottom right of the picture to enhance the experience of “getting away from it all,” but just be aware that the picture won’t be as sharp. Move your mouse to see how to reduce it again. 

Until next time, Amen!