After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst’. 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. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. — John 19:28-30
‘I Thirst’, according to the Gospel of John (John 19:28), these were the last words Jesus cried out on the cross before he died.
It was during his time as parish priest at St Wilfred’s in Chichester during the late 1980s, early 1990s, that the church acquired a new cross. It was from reflecting on the cross and a sermon Stephen Cottrell gave the following Good Friday there grew a series of meditations on the cross.
Lent is a period of reflection, of spiritual renewal. This is often forgotten when we hear people telling us what they have given up for Lent. Are they really renewed because they have given up chocolate for a few weeks? No doubt to then pig on a chocolate Easter Egg.
Lent is supposed to be a time when we review our spiritual life, think about what what it means to be a follower of Christ, reset the compass of our discipleship, and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Easter festival. But often we just give up biscuits.
It is a monastic tradition lectio divinato (divine reading) to read a passage from scripture out loud, then in the silence that follows to speak out a word or phrase, then mediate upon what has been read.
It is in that tradition that Stephen Cottrell asks that you read and meditate upon ‘I Thirst’, appropriately subtitled The Cross – The Great Triumph of Love.
N T Wright, The Challenge of Jesus:
The cross is the surest, truest and deepest window on the very heart and character of the living and loving God; the more we learn about the cross, in all its historical and theological dimensions, the more we discover about the one in whose image we are made, and hence about our own vocation to be the cross-bearing people, the people in whose lives and services the living God is known.
Essential reading for Easter.