At the conclusion of the longest six hours any person has ever endured, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Christ has been on the cross nearly 6 hours. The work has been completed. The end is near. Jesus had, in every possible way, given everything he had to give. He is exhausted and physically depleted. One can only imagine the sense of thirst. As he exclaims that he’s thirsty, a solder takes a hysso, a javelin, and extends a sponge filled with “sour wine.” Sour wine was a Roman forerunner to our modern day Gatorade. It’s not to be confused with the drink offered in Mark 15:23, a wine drugged with myrrh, which was sometimes offered to those crucified. Jesus refused that drink, opting to experience the depths of suffering to its fullest.
Jesus was parched. Famished. Empty.
As I thought about Jesus total and complete gift, I thought of another Bible character that extended himself in ministry to the point of emptiness and depletion: Elijah.
Elijah, who was Israel’s most celebrated prophet, reached a point during his career that left him totally exhausted. You can read his story in the Old Testament beginning in 1 Kings 17:1. After his famous “Mt. Carmel Showdown,” (1 Kings 18:1-46) Elijah experienced the “Mt. Carmel Meltdown” (1 Kings 19:1-4). Racked with fear and paranoia, he runs and hides from the threats of Queen Jezebel.
What does God prescribe when we are empty? What does God provide when we’ve given until there’s no more left to give? What do we do when we teeter on the brink of burnout?
1. God prescribed rest and food (1 Kings 19:5-8)
2. He led Elijah back to his spiritual roots (1 Kings 19:8b)
3. God allowed Elijah to express his feelings. (1 Kings 19:9-10)
4. God revealed himself to Elijah in a new way (1 Kings 19:11-13)
5. God told Elijah to get back to work. (1 Kings 19:15-18)
6. God provided a partner to minister to Elijah. (1 Kings 19:19-21)