Posts tagged ‘Soul’

“I am thirsty.”

File:Gerard de la Vallee - Longinus piercing Christ's side with a spear.png

Credit: Gerard de la Vallée, “Longinus piercing Christ’s side with a spear,” 17th cent.

This Friday, Christians around the world will commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.  At the church where I serve, we will hold services centering around the traditional seven final phrases that Jesus speaks from the cross.  Many of these phrases are extraordinarily well-regarded and famous.  For instance, when Jesus prays for His executioners, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), we are treated to a tour de force in what true forgiveness looks like.  When Jesus cries out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34) we hear in His words both an ache for God’s presence in suffering as well as a separation from God because of sin.

One of my favorite phrases from Jesus on the cross is one that can sometimes be overlooked:

“I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

This hardly seems like a profound statement.  It seems more like a mundane request.  A man who is baking in the hot ancient Near Eastern sun while hanging exposed on a cross has developed a case of cotton mouth.  And yet, these words represent not only the cry of a parched mouth, but the yearning of a scorched soul.

The Psalmist once said:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?  (Psalm 42:1-2)

The Psalmist describes his desperate thirst for God.  And how does God respond to his thirst?

Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and breakers have swept over me. (Psalm 42:7)

God not only gives the Psalmist’s soul spiritual water, He offers the Psalmist a superabundance of this water in the form of waves and breakers.

Jesus invites anyone who has a thirst like the Psalmist’s:

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  (John 7:37-38)

But this takes us back to Jesus’ words from the cross.  For when Jesus, who offers all men refreshment for their souls, Himself complains of thirst, how do men respond to Him?

A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  (John 19:29)

God responds to human thirst with refreshing water.  Humans respond to God’s thirst with bitter vinegar.  What a contrast.

And yet, the incredible thing about Jesus’ death on the cross is that sin’s vinegar never quite manages to strip Him of His life-giving water:

One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  (John 19:34)

The water of life stubbornly remains, flowing from the side of the One who died.

This week, as we reflect on and remember Jesus’ death, may we drink deeply from the water of His life.  For the water of His life gives us eternal life.

April 15, 2019 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Sermon Extra – Jesus, Priceless Treasure

The foot bone’s connected to the leg-bone; The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone; The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone; The thigh bone’s connected to the back bone; The back bone’s connected to the neck bone; The neck bone’s connected to the head bone; Oh hear the word of the Lord!

I can remember singing the above words as a child, learning about the prophet Ezekiel and his encounter with God in the valley of dry bones in Sunday School (cf. Ezekiel 37:1-14).  Besides being a fun way to learn a Bible story, this song also had the added benefit of teaching me some anatomy, no matter how rudimentary it may have been.  At least I knew what was connected to what.

In our text from this past weekend in worship and ABC, we wrapped up our two week min-series on stewardship titled, “Give & Take” with a look at what we, as Christians, are called to take.  In Jesus’ parable of the rich fool, we encountered a negative example of someone who tries to take all the wrong things:

The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:16-20)

This man tries to take barnfuls of grain only to learn that he can’t take them where it counts – into eternity.

Tragically, the reason this man obsesses over his barnfuls of grain has to do with what they are “connected to,” to use the words of my old Sunday school song.  Two words in this text highlight especially well what this man’s windfall of grain is “connected to.”  In verse 18, when this man determines that he will build bigger barns to “store” his grain and his goods, the Greek word for “store” is synago, from which we get our word “synagogue.”  This man is building a synagogue, or a place of worship, for his stuff!  For this man, his grain is an object of worship.   Then, in verse 19, when this man says, “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years,’” the Greek word for “self” is psyche, meaning, “soul.”  This man is not only talking in his head, he is talking to his soul.  This rich man’s grain has now taken up residence in his soul.  Thus, this man is indeed deeply “connected to” his riches.  It is the object of his worship and the resident of his soul.

Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  “Your heart will always follow your treasure,” Jesus says.  And so, if your treasure is grain, your heart will follow barnfuls of bran.  If your treasure is fame, your heart will lust after accolades and acclaim.  If your treasure is cash, your heart will yearn after portfolios and scratch.  Your heart follows your treasure.  So what is your treasure?

Just as a song from my Sunday School years taught me the fundamentals of anatomy, an old hymn reminds me of my true treasure:

Jesus, priceless treasure,
Fount of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for Thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide Thee,
Naught I ask beside Thee.

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October 25, 2010 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

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