Thirst | Devotion #4: He Relates
Ben Kirkman | Associate Operations Pastor & Facilities Director
Try to visualize the scene: Jesus, the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, hung on a cross between two criminals. He had just been mocked, beaten, whipped, spat upon, had a crown of thorns smashed into His head, and nails were driven through His hands and feet. He hung on the cross struggling just to breathe – bloody, cursed, and rejected. The crowd around Him hated Him and wanted Him to die. You could hear the people still shouting and murmuring curses and accusations against Him. Nearing the end of His suffering, Jesus spoke. He said, “I thirst.” It was a simple, seemingly unremarkable and very human request for relief. How did the soldiers respond to the Lord of all creation? They lifted up a sponge on a stick, and the sponge is soaked not in cool water to satisfy but in sour wine that must have stung His parched mouth and turned His stomach. It was cruel for sure, but more had happened than solving an unquenched thirst.
John 19:28 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), I thirst.” By saying “I thirst,” Jesus was bringing about the fulfillment of a prophecy, and it let us know just how thirsty He was. Psalm 22:15 adds, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” His mouth was so dry that His tongue was sticking to the side of his mouth. Have you ever been that thirsty? John 19:29 gives us the details of the soldiers’ response, “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to His mouth.” This jeering action actually fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69:21, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”
I hope that from Jesus speaking those two simple words “I thirst,” you will be reminded that He was human as well as God. Jesus had emotions, felt pain, and even experienced thirst. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We have a Savior that can sympathize with our troubles and pain. We have a God that knows how to help us with our hurt.
I also hope from Jesus thirsting on the cross you will be reminded of the pain and suffering He physically endured to make the payment for your sins and how much God loves you. In 1 John 4:9-10, we read, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”