Thirst | Devotion #2: Unquenchable Thirst
Roger Allen | Recovery Director
I have been part of the Passion Play at The River Church for the last thirteen years.
As a disciple, I am present at the scene depicting the crucifixion. I am one of the disciples who removes Jesus from the cross. With blood covering my hands and clothes, it is a stark and vivid portrayal of what happened to our Lord that day. From the flogging to the judgment of Pilate and the Sanhedrin, and finally at the cross, we see the broken body of our Savior. It is the purview of what He has done for you and me. His body was broken, and His blood was poured out for all. In the abuse He received, we see His sacrifice as the atonement for our sins. His humanity is on display for all to see. He was the perfect sacrifice.
In John 19:28, we read His fifth and shortest statement from the cross, Jesus states “I Thirst.” He was showing that He was fully human. He was capable of feeling the pains of torture, death, sorrow, and sadness. This is one of the places where our Savior fulfills Scripture. Psalm 69:21 says, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”
On the surface, we see the crucifixion as a physical substitutionary atonement for our sins. Yet, in the fury of God’s wrath poured out over His son, we will find the full reason behind His thirst. It was an unquenchable thirst. It was one in which a mere drink would not suffice, no matter what the liquid was. His throat would remain parched and unsatisfied. Prior to taking on the sins of humanity, He had the perfect relationship with the Father, but because of that sin, His Father could no longer look on Him. Now abandoned and all alone, He thirsted to commune with God the Father. We need only to look at the previous statement on the cross to see His true suffering. Matthew 27:46 says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
Now, try and imagine the true depth of what Jesus did that day. He took our sins and cast them as far as the East is from the West. It is where our dry bones are brought to life because of His atonement. He died so we could have everlasting life. He did it so that we may not have to experience the thirst that the rich man did in Luke 16:19-31. It is where he asked in verse 24, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” The weight of what Jesus did that day finds no true understanding in our finite minds. We are incapable of the magnitude of thought or depth that is required to understand. Yet, Jesus tells us in John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
He has offered Himself as a drink offering to satisfy our thirst for a relationship with God. Knowing we could not manage the breach which was brought on by the fall, He took the penalty for our sin unto death.
His sympathetic thirst for humanity is beyond our understanding. The love He has for us shows through all He did on the cross. Whatever trials we may endure, we can be assured that He is with us until the end. As long as there is suffering in this world, our Lord will thirst. He thirsts for the lost, who suffer the pain of separation from the Father, and for those who suffer from emotional and physical pain. Others, through their own folly, who have brought pain to themselves and others, He brings forgiveness. We know from Scripture that Jesus will thirst. He came here in order to fulfill the will of the Father and in doing so, brought us mercy.
Hebrews 2:17 adds, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”