Last Words from the Cross — Article Series:
#1 - Forgiveness
#2 - Salvation
#3 - Comfort
#4 - A Cry from Hell

#5 - I Thirst
# 6 - Victory!

#7 - Committal

Last Words from the Cross #5 - I Thirst
(posted 4-1-03)

“After this Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I THIRST” (John 19:28)
Have you ever been so thirsty that your throat was parched and your lips were cracking from lack of moisture? I haven’t, but I believe it was that and worse, when Jesus spoke these words.
He had been on the cross since 9:00 a.m. Darkness had covered the land since noon. Now nearing 3:00 p.m., at the extremity of His physical suffering Jesus whispers through those dry cracked lips and parched throat, “I thirst!” Can you imagine?
HIS SUFFERING WAS REAL. So far as we know, the last liquid Jesus had to drink was at the Passover the previous evening, about eighteen hours earlier. Loss of body fluids had begun with His agonizing sweat mingled with blood in Gethsemane(Luke 22:44). During His trial, thirty-nine lashes with a whip had cut His back to ribbons (John 19:1). The whip included nine strips of leather embedded with bits of stone and metal. This whip often went around the victim’s body to cut His chest and stomach as well, resulting in much loss of blood. A crown of thorns was also placed on His head, sending more blood down His face and neck (John 19:2).
By the time Jesus was required to carry His cross the blood flow from His back may have stopped, but that rugged cross probably opened those wounds again(John 19:17). Greatly weakened by blood loss, Jesus had apparently fallen beneath the weight of that cross, and the Roman soldiers made Simon of Cyrene carry the cross the rest of the way to Calvary(Matthew 27:32). There they had crucified Jesus with nails through His hands and feet, draining the rest of His blood. From 9:00 a.m. to noon the hot sun had further dehydrated His virtually naked body. No wonder He now whispers, “I thirst.”
Jesus once told about a rich man who died, “And in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torment,.. cried,.. Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:23-24). Did Jesus experience that kind of thirst here? I don’t know, but this word reveals an aspect of the extremity of His suffering for you and me.
. Our text says, “Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled,..” There were at least two scriptures fulfilled in this word: David’s great Psalm on the crucifixion says: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws...” (Psalm 22:15). Dr. Herschel Hobbs says this thirst was the worst part of the physical suffering of Jesus.
Another scripture was fulfilled when the soldiers, “.. filled a sponge with vinegar ..and put it to his mouth” (John 19:29). This fulfills Psalm 69:21,“.. and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
More than 300 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled to the letter in the first coming of Jesus. An equal number of prophecies are sure to be fulfilled in His second coming. Are you ready?
When an Olympic runner breaks the tape at the finish line of a race, his first words are usually “Water,” or “Give me a drink.” Thus, “I thirst,” after a race, are words of completion. The race is over. Though not announced yet, Jesus has won the victory, but His mouth is too dry to announce it. After receiving the vinegar Jesus will shout His victory statement in the sixth word.
Like a dry dipstick in a car engine says “no oil”, the very dry tongue of Jesus said “no blood.” Jesus had shed all His blood and thirsted, that you and I might come to Him by that shed blood and never thirst again. Are you thirsty? Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink”(John 7:37). Come to Jesus for the living water of salvation and then share that living water with a thirsty world. Amen.

© 2003 D. B. Martin

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