Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lenten Midweek 5

Lenten Midweek V[1]
March 17, 2010

Text: John 19:28-29 (ESV): 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.

Beloved in the Lord, behold your Lord Jesus, hanging upon the cross, dying for your sins. He has served God faithfully to the end, in your place, so that His righteousness may be credited to your account. He has suffered hell for you, been forsaken by God for your sake. He has paid your debt to God in full. Indeed, “he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5). So now, knowing that all is finished, before Jesus breathes His last, He speaks a suffering Word, a Word that is nonetheless a Word of Life for us from the cross: “I thirst” (John 19:28).

“I thirst.” Do not let the comfort of this Word from the cross be lost upon you. That Jesus thirsts means that His suffering for you, on your behalf, in your place, is real suffering. Don’t forget who this is who is hanging on the cross. This is God in the flesh. This is the almighty Word through whom all things have been created, the heavens and the earth, water itself. This is the Rock that followed His people Israel in the wilderness, ever providing them water and refreshment and life. This is He who turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is He who promised the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that if she asked Him, He would give her living water, and she would never thirst again. Jesus could at any moment call upon a legion of holy angels and they would come with the purest and most refreshing water imaginable to slake our Lord’s thirst. But on the cross, Jesus thirsts. He suffers. For you. For me. He is not only God, but truly human, God and Man, the God-Man. And He has so sacrificially given Himself upon the cross, that in Christ we can say that God thirsts.

Remember this when you suffer in this life. Our God is not a God removed from His people and their sufferings. This God knows what it means to suffer. This God knows what it means to thirst. This God knows what it means, in fact, to die. This God literally goes through hell for you. There is no suffering with which this God cannot identify. And the really mind-blowing reality of it all is that this God works through suffering and thirst and death itself to bring about the salvation of the world and eternal life for all who believe. Jesus thirsts, that we might be satisfied. This Rock is struck by the spear of the soldier, and water and blood pour forth from His side for the life of the Church. Water pours into the font for the washing away of our sin and our adoption into grace. Blood pours into the chalice that we might drink of the cup of our Lord’s salvation. It is all by grace. It is Jesus’ gracious pouring out of Himself in His thirst and suffering for the life and satisfaction of the world.

When our Lord cries out, some soldiers take a hyssop branch and lift up a sponge full of sour wine, vinegar really, not at all satisfying, and place it upon His lips. It is not good wine. It is not fit for the supper table, much less as a gift for the dying Savior. But this is to fulfill the Scriptures, Psalm 69:21: “for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” And so also this is to fulfill Jesus’ own prophecy: “For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18). Here our Lord drinks of the fruit of the vine. The Kingdom of God has come. It has come in the flesh of Christ lifted up upon the cross. It has come in our King enthroned upon the tree, crowned with thorns, He who thirsts for our righteousness, and pours out Himself that we might have it. The Kingdom of God comes as the Church is born from blood and water, the riven side of the thirsting, suffering Savior.

And so this evening the Kingdom of God comes to you, the people of God, the holy Church, as you drink of the fruit of the vine with your Savior. He Himself gives you to drink. He gives you to drink of Himself, His blood, shed for your forgiveness, under the wine, even as His true body is under the bread. This is no sour wine, no wine-vinegar. This is the vintage. Drink of this and you drink of the spiritual Rock of Israel. Drink of this and you join the unending wedding feast. Drink of this and you drink deeply of the water of life, even as you are baptized into that life. Jesus’ thirst has become your satisfaction, your fullness. Jesus’ thirst means that your thirst forever comes to an end. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] This year’s Lenten midweek series is taken from Words of Life from the Cross (St. Louis: Concordia, 2010). The sermon is my own, but the theme and many of the details come from the above-mentioned materials.

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