John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 19:28, I Thirst

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

//Readers of my book about John’s Gospel are aware of the many parallels between the opening story, of Jesus turning water into wine, and the ending story, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But I was recently made aware of another simple parallel … one of theological importance that I can’t believe I missed! It is these two words: I thirst.

The story is this: Jesus attends a marriage in Cana, where his mother comes to him saying they have run out of wine. The guests are thirsty. Jesus’ reply, which sounds a little harsh, is to say “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”

The ancient prophecies promised a coming day when wine would be abundant, when no one would go thirsty. This would happen when the Messiah arrived. But Jesus, when reminded that there was no wine, replied as if he didn’t care that the wedding guests were thirsty. His hour had not yet come for that sort of miracle.

At the marriage, Jesus is somewhat pressured into providing wine before his “hour came,” but nevertheless, the dialogue surrounding the first miracle in John sets the stage for the coming hour. This “hour,” repeated over and over in John’s Gospel, would arrive when Jesus rose into the air on the cross.

So, now, at the end of the Gospel story we finally come to Jesus’ “hour,” and what happens? Still, he hasn’t provided wine in abundance as promised by the prophets. Still, he hasn’t met the need of the thirsty. In fact, Jesus himself admits his thirst! The very last words of Jesus according to John’s Gospel, are an admission that he still thirsts! Did the prophecies fail?

I don’t think so. This verse follows quickly after Jesus’ death:

But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. –John 19:34

Thus appears, finally, the fountain of wine promised by the prophets, and Jesus’ “hour” finally arrives in its fullness. A spring of abundance and hope opens from Jesus side and pours forth the saving blood of Jesus … the wine of the new era.

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