March 21, 2021

“I Thirst…”

Passage: John 19:28

I would like to begin with a quote from the prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  "The sea is His, and He made it," and all fountains and springs are of His digging.  He poureth out the streams that run among the hills, the torrents which rush adown the mountains, and the flowing rivers which enrich the plains.  One would have said, If He were thirsty He would not tell us, for all the clouds and rains would be glad to refresh His brow, and the brooks and streams would joyously flow at His feet.  And yet, though He was Lord of all He had so fully taken upon Himself the form of a servant and was so perfectly made in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He cried with fainting voice, "I thirst."

In the fifth word from the cross we first identify 1 An Expression Of Human Agony.  In what Jesus spoke in that moment He contradicted the perception of many over the ages who said, “It couldn’t have been that difficult for Jesus to deal with sin at Golgotha.  Just like all of His miracles, He just performed another supernatural act when He died.”  No, my friends, that is as far as one can get from the truth.  There was the deepest agony any human being ever experienced in the person of Jesus Christ.  And that suffering was in human flesh.  He 100% took our nature upon Himself when He became our Substitute.  And so the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 69: 21 was fulfilled, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”  What do you think is our greatest human need?  Food or clothes to wear or shelter?  Is it to be comforted by others?  No, out first need to keep our human bodies to function is water.  And that was what Jesus expressed in His last moments on the cross – the agony of thirst got to the point that it was unbearable.  God in human flesh came to the point that He had to cry out, “I am thirsty.”  In those words we all should acknowledge – “God Who came to us was about to die from thirst.”   Those words from Jesus was the only expression from the cross about Himself.  The others were about forgiveness for those who caused His death; including each one of us – “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  There were expressions about assurance – “Today you will be with me in paradise” and “Woman, there is your son...Son, there is your mother.”  Then there was the expression about fulfilling the Father's mission – “It is finished.”  And lastly words of submission came from the lips of our Lord – “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.”  But in all my friends, God in Jesus Christ, took upon Himself the most humble state to make Himself nothing.  And in that state He experienced human agony beyond comprehension.  One of Denmark’s leading sculptors had a burning ambition to create the greatest statue of Jesus ever made.  He began by shaping a clay model of a triumphant, royal figure.  The head was thrown back and the arms were upraised in a gesture of great majesty.  It was his conception of Christ the King: Strong and dominant.  "This will be my masterpiece", he said, on the day the model was completed.  But, during the night a heavy fog rolled into the area and sea-spray seeped through an opened window of the artist’s ocean-side studio.  The moisture affected the shape of the model so that when the artist returned to the studio in the morning, he was shocked to find a wounded figure.  The droplets of moisture that had formed on the statue created the illusion of bleeding.  The head had drooped.  The facial expression had been transformed from severity to compassion.  The artist stared at the figure, agonizing over the time wasted and the need to begin all over again.  But something came over him to change his mood.  He began to see that this image of Christ was the truer one.  He expressed that for the first time he recognized the Jesus Who came to suffer and die.  Can you and I truly identify the suffering Servant in His physical state of thirst on the cross?

In the words, “I am thirsty” we identify 2 Jesus' Obedience To The Will Of The Father.  Perhaps we don't fully comprehend the words of Philippians 2: 8, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”  His entire human existence on earth was to bring glory to the Father – there was never a self-centred act from the Son of God; never did He seek recognition or self-gain.  He breathed every breath to do what the Father expected from Him.  And it came to conclusion on the cross – “Father I am thirsty...and now I don't want to quench my thirst, because it's not about me – it's about You.”  Commentaries tell us that we shouldn't be confused by what Jesus spoke in the fifth word from the cross.  They say He didn't ask for a drink of water.  He only expressed what He went through.  We read in Matthew 27: 34 that Jesus refused to drink the wine vinegar the soldiers offered Him.  The other Gospel writers expressed that He took it.  But the point is that it never would have quenched His thirst.  No, He wasn't going to back away from ending the mission of the Father.  That was the deepest level of obedience.  A Jewish legend is told of a group of angels in heaven that had a lesson about obedience.  The teacher angel told all the angels, “Come with me and see the essence of obedience.”  They flew through galaxies and saw in front of them what we know as earth.  They descended to a small country and a city where many people were gathered and outside the city they saw three crosses with three men nailed to them.  And then the other angels recognized Jesus on the cross in the middle.  One of them cried out, “Is that really the Prince of heaven?  Did He really come down to earth to do what He said He would do?  Did He really become so obedient?”  My friends, the answer is yes.  Jesus Christ demonstrated true obedience to the Father.

There was another reason why Jesus spoke the words – “I am thirsty.”  3 He Became Thirsty For All The People Of The World who were on their way to perish.  But then He fulfilled the words of John 3: 16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  On that cross on the Good Friday our Saviour was thirsty for the woman at the well of Jacob to fulfill His promise to her that the water He was to give her, would cause her never to be thirsty again.  That signified how He would save her from eternal death and condemnation.  And on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7: 37b&38.  The words are still echoing in every place in the world – “...come to me and drink...”  But think about it...He thirst for us, so that we don't have to thirst.  We are filled with awe for the fifth word from the cross – “I thirst.”