Last Words Series – Part Five, "Drink"


“Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’”
– John 19:28

The fount of living water
bellows drought. I want
to lift a ladle, cold and pure,
so you could be relieved.
But I’m deceived with ease.

My cup is sour, dilute
the wine from dirty
cisterns. Nothing I
can offer satisfies.
Are you glad you chose

to filter septic water,
offer your body to be
my purifier? How I love you.
Keep taking this cup:
Drink up, drink up.

This, too, was a verse that stumped me.  It’s a very human moment – Jesus is thirsty – and what is offered to him is a sponge soaked with wine vinegar.  Commentaries talk about this drink as being one that quenches thirst, but my initial reading imagined a strong vinegar drink as being quite repulsive.  Keeping with the reasons why Christ is on the cross, I imagined myself offering Jesus a drink, but I am unpure, human, and he is the source of living water – whoever drinks of him will never thirst.  Jesus is the great Brita filter for the soul, the city water treatment facility.  He accepts all of my waste, my contaminated life, and decontaminates it. 
In light of what Jesus does for me, what baffles me are the same words of Paul, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing… What a wretched man I am!  Who will save me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19, 24).  In spite of what I know to be true in Christ, my offerings to him continue to look suspiciously like chocolate milk.  But, “Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:25-8:2).
I don’t want Jesus to have to keep taking this cup of mine.  But I am grateful that he did indeed take the cup back on that dark day, that God did not let the cup be taken from him, like he prayed in the garden.  And his cleansing and purifying continues in our lives every day, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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