Text: John 19:28
Readings: Exodus 17:1-7, I Corinthians 10:1-13, John 19:28-29
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
From an account of the British liberation of Palestine by Major V. Gilbert in The Last Crusade, he writes:
Driving up from Beersheba, a combined force of British, Australians and New Zealanders were pressing on the rear of the Turkish retreat over arid desert.
The attack outdistanced its water carrying camel train. Water bottles were empty. The sun blazed pitilessly out of a sky where the vultures wheeled expectantly. "Our heads ached," writes Gilbert, "and our eyes became bloodshot and dim in the blinding glare...Our tongues began to swell...Our lips turned a purplish black and burst." Those who dropped out of the column were never seen again, but the desperate force battled on to Sheria. There were wells at Sheria, and had they been unable to take the place by nightfall, thousands were doomed to die of thirst.
"We fought that day," writes Gilbert, "as men fight for their lives... We entered Sheria station on the heels of the reteating Turks. The first objects which met our view were the great stone cisterns full of cold, clear, drinking water. In the still night air the sound of water running into the tanks could be distinctly heard, maddening in its nearness; yet not a man murmured when orders were given for the battalions to fall in, two deep, facing the cisterns"
He then describes the stern priorities: the wounded, those on guard duty, then company by company. It took four hours before the last man had his drink of water, and in all that time they had been standing twenty feet from a low stone wall on the other side of which were thousands of gallons of water.
From an account of the British liberation of Palestine by Major V. Gilbert in The Last Crusade, quoted in Christ's Call To Discipleship, J.M. Boice, Moody, 1986, p. 143.
17 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
Water is important and especially important for life. People who have fasted and gone without food have lasted up to three weeks. (Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days of complete starvation) But water is not the same thing. It comprises about 60% of our body, helps to flush waste, it lubricate joints, and regulates our body’s temperature.
Without water we can only live 3-4 days.
So the importance of water can’t be minimized.
2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”
Now the Israelites here had left Egypt. They endured the 10 plagues, including the plague of blood where Moses struck the Nile River with his staff and it turned to blood. The plague of boils where soot from a furnace was thrown into the air turning into a fine dust that went throughout the land that festered into boils on the men and animals it landed on, plague of darkness which lasted three day – called darkness that can be felt … that’s dark! They experienced the Passover, began their Exodus out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea on dry ground and saw Pharaoh’s Army drowned in that same place. They ate Manna and Quail from heaven and still they grumbled.
We don’t grumble from what we have … we grumble from who we are!
As sinners we grumble. No matter our blessings … we grumble. No matter our failings … we grumble. It is the nature of sin and the nature of sinners.
Now, we want water. We’re thirsty and we haven’t had any … for a day or more and it’s hot!
I don’t know how much time that they went without water but probably less than three days … or they wouldn’t have been asking … they would have been dead.
4 So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And they would have and the Lord too.
We want water!
We want water … is the cry! Sinners do that. They complain about what “we” do not have … now! And God is not their God, or so they complain because of all the miracles he has provided they are only concerned right now with the miracle they need now!
This is you and me as well … if we’re honest with ourselves.
J. Vernon McGee the radio preacher of Thru the Bible fame tells the story of his first grandchild … a son.
“He was born … and I must tell you, I doubted my faith. He was such a perfect child, a perfect baby, no crying, no complaining … that … I began to doubt my own faith that we are born sinful and unclean and in need of a savior, he said. It really tested my faith.”
“But then, he says … his brother came along … and you know restored my faith! He must have taken after his grandma.”
Thru the Bible radio from memory
Sin is real and real evident in how sinners act. God’s children wanted water and regardless of all that God had done for them they were like little children, who were thirsty now and wanted water now!
Paul writes in the epistle for today:
10 Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink.
For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
The physical trials of those in the wilderness were real. Thirst was real both for those following Moses and those with Major Gilbert as he liberated Palestine. Almost to the point of exhaustion and death from thirst they struggled one in grumbling and one in patience.
How do we respond to trial and thirst? In both ways I assume. At times we grumble and at times we endure. As sinners it is our nature. We forget all of god’s benefits to us by and through his son. We look not to all we have but all we want and need … forgetting all that he has done for us and the most important gift of the life giving flood in Holy Baptism that washes us free of sin.
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.
Christ’s thirst, fulfilled scripture. His thirst was real … just like those in the wilderness. As true man and true God he took your place and mine as he thirsted but did not grumble knowing that all was made new by his life and death for you.
And by His Spirit our spiritual thirst itself is quenched and we receive that living water unto salvation.
In the name of the Father, + Son and Holy Spirit