Pocket Full of Easter
Journey to The Cross: The Seven Last Sayings of Christ
When my nephew Bill was 4 years old, he made what we all called “The Bill Noise.” Bill could whine better than any child I’d ever met. He also could negotiate. One day, he said, “Aunt Cheryle, why don’t you take me on the trips with the other nephews?”
I said, “Sweetheart, you’re still pretty young. Besides, I have a couple of rules before I take children anywhere. You have to be able to swim and I don’t allow whining. You haven’t learned to swim and you love to whine.”
Bill pondered the words carefully and finally said, “I’m not ready to swim yet but I think you should take me on trips where there is no swimming if I promise not to whine.”
I agreed. The next trip we made was to Cypress Gardens in sunny central Florida. We were standing in line for a ride when Bill said, “Aunt Cheryle, I’m thirsty.”
I said, “I’m thirsty too but we’re going to ride first.”
Bill repeated, “I’m thirsty.”
“I know honey but this is a long line. We’ll buy a coke right after we finish the ride.”
I watched Bill struggle with this news. Finally he said, “Aunt Cheryle, I’m really thirsty and it’s making me want to whine.”
I hugged him as I said, “Yes but you’re not going to.” He didn’t whine and as soon as the ride was finished, we bought drinks for everyone.
None of us likes to be thirsty. When Jesus was on the cross, baking in the hot sun, his body cried out for a drink. The words, “I thirst,” both indicated his physical need and fulfilled prophecy.
Read John 19:28-29.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. KJV
• Imagine Jesus, on the cross in the hot sun.
• Imagine the feel of vinegar on His cracked parched lips.
• Let yourself thirst for God the same way Jesus thirsted for water on the cross.
• Thank Jesus for fulfilling the scriptures and being our Savior.
• Ask Him to help you thirst for Him.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
If you read the above scripture carefully, you will notice that both the thirst and vinegar had a purpose and fulfilled prophesy.
Read Psalms 69:20-21.
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. KJV
• How was David feeling?
• When he asked the world for help, what did the world give him?
• How was this foreshadowing of the cross?
Throughout the Bible, thirst is a metaphor for needing God. Read Isaiah 41:17-18.
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. KJV
• What happens when the poor and needy seek water?
• The people want a drink. What abundance is God promising?
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He used the same metaphor of water. Read Matthew 5:6.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. KJV
• What are we to thirst for?
• What is the promise?
Jesus is our Living Water. Read John 4:14.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. KJV
• What is the promise?
• Describe the water Jesus gives.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this Living Water is that it flows through us and on to others. Read John 7:37-38.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. KJV
• What is the invitation given?
• What is the promise if we accept this invitation?
The people who crucified Jesus were His enemies and yet He offered them Living Water. We are to do the same. God gives us specific instructions for dealing with our enemies.
Read Romans 12:20-21.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. KJV
• What are we to do if our enemy is hungry and thirsty?
• What happens to our enemy when we return evil with good?
We look at the cross to see how difficult our world can be. Disappointments, loss, and confusion threaten our peace. Often, like Jesus, we cry out in agony, “We thirst.”
Read Revelations 7:16-17.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. KJV
• What will heaven be like?
• Who will feed us and lead us into fountains of water?
• What will happen to our tears?
Read Psalms 42:1-2 and offer it as a prayer.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; NASU
Let yourself pant for the living God as a deer pants for water. Feel your soul thirsting for God and fill it with Living Water.
While on my first missionary journey across America, I decided to walk a trail at Hovenweep National Monument. Hovenweep is the site of six Puebloan-era 1,000-year-old villages that run along the rocky cliffs of the Utah/Colorado border. I didn’t know it then, but the park covers about a 20 square mile area.
It seemed easy enough. I looked at a map and marked out a trail that led past some ruins. I thought about going into the Visitors Center and getting directions but it looked straightforward. While the terrain was rocky and rugged, it was also flat. The temperature was well over 100 degrees but it was late in the afternoon and hopefully cooling off. There were at least 3 cars in the parking lot so I shouldn’t be alone on the trail. I grabbed 1 small bottle of water and set off on my journey.
The first hour was lovely as I meandered past the multistoried crumbling buildings perched on canyon rims. As I passed the ancient kivas or Puebloan ceremonial buildings, I imagined the people that worshipped and lived there. I read the signs, hungry for information about this primitive society. I sipped the water slowly, hoping to make it last. I regretted not wearing my newly purchased hat as the western heat beat down on my head.
Suddenly I realized the trail should have only been a mile long. I normally walk a 20-minute mile but had stopped along the way to look and read so I wasn’t surprised it had taken longer. Still, I thought about where I was and realized I should have been back to the Visitor’s Center by now. I panicked. Where was I? I looked around but couldn’t see anyone. By now, the water was gone. I was hot, thirsty, and ready to be back at the car. Where was the car?
I looked at the map and calmed down as it looked like all the trails were linked. I wasn’t sure what trail I was on but hoped that if I made all right turns, it would eventually lead to something familiar. I was in a rocky desert so I could see for miles and the trail looked endless. As I trudged across the rocks, my hiking shoes grew heavy and in my weariness, I stumbled. I was thirsty and dreamed about the water in my small refrigerator. Why didn’t I bring more? I wondered at what point I would start seeing mirages. My head ached from heat so I rested a moment trying to cover the top of my head with my hands.
Ruins lost their charm as my need for water grew desperate. How had the Pueblo people lived in this hot, rocky, barren land? Now that I thought about it, I wondered what I was doing there. God, give me wisdom, I prayed.
I felt Him whisper back, You should have asked for wisdom before you left with so little water, no hat, and no directions. Or maybe that was my guilty conscious talking. I reminded God that He protected the foolish and felt His sigh as His hand gently guided me. If I’d had the energy, I’d have danced a jig when I finally came to a sign that said “Visitors Center” and pointed left. I still had quite a walk in front of me but at least I had hope.
I arrived back at the Visitors Center, after a 2.5 hour walk in 105 degree weather. I felt foolish as I gulped the tepid water from the fountain. Nothing had ever tasted so good. I reminded myself to drink slowly. Never again would I leave my car without enough water, good directions, and a hat. When I got to the car, I opened a bottle of the deliciously cool water and thanked God for leading me home.
Our souls long for God the same way my body was longing for water. In our search for God, we often find ourselves suffering on the wrong trail. Our God longings may be masked by our insatiable cravings for more – more money, fame, attention, alcohol, drugs, food, love, or what ever. When we get what we thought we wanted, it is never enough. A popular saying is that we have a God shaped hole in all of us where nothing else fits. We may try to put other things in that hole but until we fill it with God, we don’t get that satisfied sigh of relief that comes from relaxing into what our soul craves.
Today when you find yourself dissatisfied, forget what you think you want and assume that dissatisfaction is a longing for God. Fill that hole in your soul by seeking God. Follow the longing to the Living Water of the cross.