By Dr. Esther Acolatse
Assistant Research Professor
of Pastoral Theology and Global Christianity
Duke Divinity School
Of all the words spoken on the cross that day, these words were the only ones that were related to the person of Jesus, as it were the only egocentric words. All others were exocentric, done in fulfillment of his calling as the son of Man who comes to take away the sin of human kind and fulfill his Father’s will. These are the last but one words from the cross of one who hung bruised and burned for the sins of others. It was as if at the lowest point in his life, abased to the lowest levels, his soul takes center stage and divinity bursts forth in him until the actual act of dying begin.
First he forgives directly the soldiers who mock, beat, and nailed his battered body to the cross, but then that forgiveness extends to all for whom this cruel at was necessitated, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Next he promises a dying penitent rest and peace and paradise. He had not broken faith with his Father despite the suffering, for this thief had heard him call God Father, when he asked God to forgive those who ill treated him.
He fulfils his filial duties by entrusting his mother to the disciple whom he loved the best. He gives his mother a son in place of the one that is being lost that day, for even on that cross he was still her little child. This is only the second time Jesus calls his mother woman- at his first miracle and at this his final miracle.
When he feels the weight of sin on himself through the severing of the bond from Abba, he is the obedient servant of the Lord, sensing the absence of fellowship and longing for the spiritual symbiotic relationship. But that rift was the signal that the work of grace was being done and he enters into his body rather than a spiritual plane to accomplish this act of dying so that it may count for us. He returns to his body and in this body he declares, “It is Finished” and commends his spirit to his God.
“I Thirst”, says the living water, the one who announces that all who thirst may come and drink freely of himself. My people say “Se kwatrikwa se obe kye wo ntuma, bisa ni din” when naked promises you cloth, ask for its name. With what shall we quench the thirst of water?
The human body is made up of sixty percent water, and about eight-three percent of our blood is water. He bore our sins in his body on the cross; his blood poured out depleted him of water. I THIRST, says the Lord, your savior. With what shall we quench his thirst?
May be we can join him in his thirst, at least in thirsting after righteousness, justice and peace this Easter season, but in our bodies, the place of our conscious acts, in our bodies, the place we share with others intimately or otherwise and in a way that translates into fullness of life for other bodies.