Spring is at the door and here in Atlanta, it has come with wonderfully moderate temperatures. A most welcome change after what seemed to be a particularly cold and dreary winter. But as anyone this far south knows, it won’t be long until oppressive heat envelopes the region in a thick steamy blanket as spring morphs all too quickly into summer. Here in my native region, the heat and humidity can be so oppressive that if you spend much time outdoors, you must be very mindful to stay well-hydrated.
While most of us have experienced relatively mild thirst on hot summer days, true clinical dehydration carries dangers that are far more serious than many realize and requires more than a tall glass of water to alleviate. The Mayo Clinic’s list of symptoms for the most severe cases of dehydration includes extreme headache, shriveled skin, dizziness and confusion.
So, when we read about the crucifixion of Jesus in John 19, it’s easy to read verse 28 and imagine that when He said “I am thirsty,” His words were solely motivated out of the physical need of his flesh. (And perhaps His desire was simply to wet his mouth enough to utter with His dying breath what were likely the most important words of His Earthly ministry! <more on that next week>) While we can clearly see the reality of Christ’s humanity in His parched request, there is also a significant lesson to learn from the often overlooked introductory portion of the verse that precedes His statement.
“Later, knowing that all was now completed and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
That scene-setting verse unequivocally lets us know that Jesus was in complete control of what was coming to pass. While certainly his human body was wracked in every possible way by the physical agony He was enduring, it’s worth noting that He wasn’t confused, or disoriented by His suffering. I believe that the statement He made was motivated out of more than physical need since He wasn’t just hanging passively until His life drained away. Even in this final moment when His death was imminent, He remained at work, ‘at His post’ if you will, fulfilling prophecy so that nothing that needed to be accomplished would be left undone. And in so doing, He insured that throughout the centuries to come, Scripture itself would testify indisputably that He is the “Holy One of God.” (John 6:69)
These are much more than trivial details. They stand as clear reminders to each of us that Our Savior is always in control of every circumstance. Even in what seemed to be the weakest and most vulnerable moment of His time on earth, Jesus was carefully, purposefully, and deliberately carrying out the work He’d been sent to earth to do.
So, when you look at your life and feel like you’ll never be what you want to be or that there’s too much work yet to be done for you to be of any use to God, remember that you are a masterpiece in God’s eyes… one that is yet to be completed! Let today’s verse be your assurance that your Lord is always at work and never gets distracted from His task of conforming you into His image. (Romans 8:29)
Rest in the confidence of knowing that, in the Apostle’s words, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)