Death stole my grandmother from me during Spring break of my 4th grade year. My heart ached as it dawned on me that we would never again go fishing together. We had communed over our final banana split at the small-town drugstore. The secret giggles of borrowing her lipstick before the Tuesday night buffet and bingo were finished. Life felt parched without her. I thirsted for more. I would still love just one more day with my dear, fun-loving, sturdily built, slightly wrinkled, beautiful Mina.

If you have ever held vigil at the bedside of a dying loved one, you know that they often thirst and the only solution seems to be to lift a tiny sponge of water on a stick to moisten her mouth. So it makes sense that Jesus said “I thirst” in his final conscious moments on the cross. Like us, he knew both the physical longing for a sip of water and the spiritual longing for love to save him.

But sometimes we discount how much Jesus actually did thirst. After all, Jesus is the one who turned water into wine at a wedding. He knew how to get the joy to overflow in brimming glasses. And when Jesus visits a woman drawing water at a well, he encourages her and offers to quench her thirst for forgiveness saying, “I am the living water, everyone who drinks of me will never thirst”. And Jesus pours out the cup at the last supper and says “Drink of it all of you, for this is the covenant of God’s love”. So why did he thirst?

His was not a pretend thirst. He was as human as a child in Gaza longing for a sip of water. Jesus felt the same horrific physical pain as those who perished in the fire at a concert in Moscow last weekend. God does not save us from pain by going around it, God enters into it with us. On Good Friday, we remember that Jesus became one of us and experienced the depth of our human suffering. The path to new life does not bypass our thirst.