For you save us by giving your body and blood.
As long as I live, Jesus, make me your servant.
I am thirsty.
persisted and the hours passed. The Centuries inspected the men
hanging on the crosses. Some had died. They had not been
strong enough to endure. Others had fallen silent. The
atmosphere surrounding the hilltop had changed. Some still
cried out but their breathing was laboured and their blasphemies
One guard was
sure that he had heard Jesus say, “I am thirsty.”
for the cheap wine the soldiers had brought with them for their
personal refreshment. Finding a sponge, he poured a libation
and pressed it to Jesus’ lips.
Was it then
that Jesus remembered that he had told his disciples that he
would not drink wine again until he came into his Kingdom? This
is no throne. No hand was free to hold a sceptre. Had Luke
been wrong? Pledge or not the guard was sure that he had heard
Jesus clearly, “I am thirsty.”
Few of us
have ever experienced thirst. Oh, we have our morning coffee,
but I have never arrived at breakfast thirsty. We might have a
glass of water when we take our medication. We might even let
the water run so that it will be cold. But thirst eludes us.
Pausing for a cup of tea midday may be a well established
pattern. However thirst has little to do with it.
thirst for the first time six years ago. And it wasn’t mine.
My son was
returning to Saint John after a weekend visit and I drove him to
the bus depot here in the city. We arrived in time to purchase
his fare and have a light supper in the adjacent sandwich
his order and went and found a table as I told the clerk what I
wanted. I poured two cups of soda as the sandwiches were being
prepared and then paid the clerk.
I placed the
tray on the table, took off my overcoat and sat opposite my
son. He took off his cap as I said grace, and then we began to
unwrap the sandwiches. No one else was in the restaurant and we
had the place to ourselves.
It was nice –
we weren’t rushed and we had an opportunity to talk – about the
visit and about the week that lie ahead. As we talked, a woman
entered the shop and went to a table and sat down. She had a
small over night bag that she rested on the floor. She was
alone. She was in her 50’s although she looked weary and older.
After a short
time she spoke in our direction. “May I have a cup of tea,
please?” she said. Startled, I turned to look in her direction,
“Pardon me?” I said. She repeated her request. “May I have a
cup of tea?” And she went on, “I have been travelling all day
and I am going to Saint John on the bus. I haven’t had anything
to eat. May I have a cup of tea?” “Of course you may,” I
replied as I stood up and went to her table. “I’ll get you a
cup of tea. I’m not sure how good it’ll be – they only have
paper cups.” “That’s okay,” she said. “Tea in a paper cup
would be fine. I just got in from Chatham.” She held her hands
together, rubbing them nervously.
As I stood at
the counter I ordered her cup of tea, and a sandwich. The bus
wasn’t going to arrive in Saint John until late and if she was
thirsty now, her hunger would be unbearable in another three
hour’s time. While the clerk prepared the sandwich I took the
paper cup and the tea bag and went and poured hot water into the
cup from the spout by the coffee machine.
transaction completed, I carried the tray with the fresh
sandwich and steaming cup of tea to the woman’s table and placed
it in from of her. “Enjoy this,” I said and returned to my son
and my sandwich.
I may be
mistaken, but I am sure that I heard Jesus’ cry of thirst that
Sunday night in a small sandwich restaurant waiting for a bus to
Saint John. And I suspect that we have all heard that cry at
other times and in other places.
But I have
not always acted with the perception that brought Golgotha close
to me that night. Like you, I have found myself asking, “Lord,
when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or
naked or ill or in prison, and did nothing for you?”
And he will
answer, “I tell you this, anything you did not do for one of the
least of these, however humble, you did not do for me.”
For you save
us by giving your body and blood.
As long as I
live, Jesus, make me your servant.
It is finished.