It is customary during Holy Week to look back at what the first followers of Jesus witnessed. We imagine what it must have been like to see firsthand what appeared to be the end of their hope that Jesus Christ was and is the long-awaited Messiah. After all, deliverance means something different for each of us. Yet salvation also has commonality. In particular, we desire that our thirst be quenched.
We’ve talked, reflected, and considered what it means to be thirsty for several weeks. We began by exploring the depths of our thirst, imagining what it must be like to be so dehydrated that we’re parched. And we prayed for millions worldwide who know the meaning of parched firsthand as it relates to a lack of clean water.
Our journey began on Ash Wednesday. Unfortunately, the worship service we planned in common with our friends at Court Street was canceled due to dangerous weather conditions. Nevertheless, setbacks don’t keep us from pursuing relief. So we didn’t let the difficulty of the journey keep us from making it. After all, the stakes are too high. We’re thirsty, and relief lies at the road’s end, not the beginning.
Most of us are spiritually parched. Oh, we believe and all that. Yet, not a day goes by when we’re not distracted by everyday worries, disappointments, and doubt. And most of us turn to our habitual go-to for comfort.
I tend to eat when I’m feeling stressed. Usually, without conscious awareness, I’m not enjoying my food or even paying attention to what or how much I eat. And I’m blessed that my coping habits aren’t more damaging to my well-being.
You know the feeling. You’re thirsty. So you go to the refrigerator for something cold to drink. Afterward, you feel better for now. Yet, there is still something missing. You’re still thirsty.
Jesus sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then He broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.
But your thirst is not for more of whatever you drank. The hunger you’re feeling isn’t for more chips or candy. The urges bubbling up within you are not for whatever habitual coping crutch you’ve grown attached to that gets you through another day.
During our journey for Lent, we turned to an expert on social justice. This topic lies at the core of what a Messiah was expected to accomplish. Eric Nilsen writes, “By social justice, we mean that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities – irrespective of their religion, caste, or creed – and particularly those in greatest need.”
So if our Messiah came and ushered in a new era of justice, why does the world’s richest one percent own over forty percent of its wealth? How does ten percent of the world’s population live in poverty?
Perhaps for many of us, it’s shocking when we discover that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for to make the changes that we so desperately want to happen. We know that the handful of influential leaders controlling most resources aren’t interested in the kind of changes that Jesus came to make. The truth is they’re more parched than most of us but haven’t learned that wealth and power won’t quench their thirst.
This Easter, we walk alongside Cleopas and his unnamed friend as they flee from disappointment and hopelessness. The person they hoped was the Messiah was executed as a common criminal and died like we all die. Once again they thought, they put their trust in another human only to be disappointed that letting each other down is too much part of our shared human condition.
So they dealt with their disappointment the only way they knew how using the only power they had under their control. They ran away.
Sometimes we can collect our thoughts, reenergize and recharge, and set out on another quest. However, no matter how often we quench our thirst, we discover that our physical thirst returns and our spiritual thirst are never satisfied. Until that is, we see and recognize that Jesus is alive.
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Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by CleanWaterfortheWorld.org.
Content for this series is also based in part on:
Eric Nilsen. Understanding Social Justice. © Eric Nilsen, 2022. Independently published.