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The Significant Thirst of Jesus

6 minutes to read

What is the one thing that we long for, more than anything, in the summertime? What do our lips feel like in the heat of the summer season? We all know and might have experienced the dryness of our lips and the thirst for water in the heat waves of summer. We thirst a lot and look to satisfy our thirst with a sip of water. What joy and satisfaction it brings when we drink water in that thirst. There is nothing that can satisfy our thirst more than simple water. Isn’t it? In the same way, there is a spiritual thirst that every human soul goes through. The question is, “What can satisfy that thirst?”

“I thirst” was the cry of a man who was sentenced to death for crimes that he did not commit. No sin was found in him, yet the crowds shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The only sinless man on the face of this earth was handed down to sinful men to be tortured to death. Jesus was cruelly mocked, mercilessly beaten, spit upon, was made to carry his cross, and was crucified. Enduring all that shame and pain, his dear life was hanging on that cross in the afternoon, in the heat of the day. The whole of nature seems to be against him. Yet he never complained. Before his final words on the cross, he opened his lips and said, “I thirst.”

“I thirst” was the cry of a man who was sentenced to death for crimes that he did not commit.

What an irony! The God who is self-sufficient in himself said, “I thirst.” The fountain of the living water said, “I thirst.” The Rock from whom the waters flow to satisfy his people’s thirst said, “I thirst.” The one who can turn the wilderness into a pool of water and the dry land into a spring of water said, “I thirst.” The one who can give us living water that satisfies our thirst forever said, “I thirst.” However, the reality is that Jesus was genuinely thirsty on the cross, so he said “I thirst.”

Now the question is, why was he thirsty?  The reason lies in the very nature of the Lord Jesus. A.W. Pink responds to this question and says that “The Lord Jesus is very God of very God, but He was also very man of very man.” The uniqueness of Jesus is that he is fully God and fully man at the same time. We can see his human nature in how he was born to a woman, grew up as a child and worked as a man. Like any other, he had his daily needs. He was hungry; he was thirsty; he was tired; he needed sleep; he experienced joy, sorrow, and pain; he bled when beaten and died when crucified. Like any man, he experienced all these things in his human nature, yet unlike man, he was sinless! We can see the human nature of Jesus clearly in the way he lived and died.

So, this man, Jesus, cried out from the cross, “I thirst.” What was he thirsty for? The Bible says, After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the Scripture), “I thirst.” (John 19:28). We can see here that this cry of thirst was preceded by the knowledge of something that was then finished. What was finished on that cross? What is the author talking about? The very reason Jesus took up the cross is to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) and to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). The Bible says that all humanity is under God’s judgment for their sins. Everybody, by default, is under God’s wrath and deserves eternal punishment. However, God, in his mercy and grace, chose to save his people from this eternal punishment, but not at the cost of ignoring the punishment that they deserve. That would be unjust. So, to uphold both His justice and grace, God chose to punish His Son, Jesus, in our place and pour out His wrath on him so that we can be spared. Jesus is our substitute who absorbed the just wrath of God on our behalf.

We can see the human nature of Jesus clearly in the way he lived and died.

It is for this reason that Jesus came into this world as a man to represent men and women on that cross. When he had finished that work on that cross, he said, “I thirst” both to fulfil the scripture and to make a final shout of victory. The Reformation Study Bible comments on this verse and says that “Both Jesus’ intense thirst (Pss. 42:2; 663:1) and the sour wine offered to quench it (Ps. 69:21) are fulfilments of Scripture.” Jesus came into this world as it was written. He lived and moved as it was written. He spoke as it was written. He worked as it was written. Finally, he died and rose again as it was written. It was as if his life was pre-scripted. Indeed, it was the Father who sent him to accomplish the redemption of his people.

Jesus is that promised Messiah. The seed of the woman who is to crush the head of the serpent, he is the promised offspring of Abraham, he is the Prophet whom Moses pointed out, he is the true son of David who will sit on the throne forever, and he is the lamb that was to be slain as mentioned in Isaiah. Jesus carefully fulfilled every one of the prophecies that were written of him. On that cross, he cried out, “I thirst,” to fulfil what was written of him, that he would be given vinegar to drink as prophesied. This not only shows his eagerness to fulfil the Scripture but also his very human nature.

In his human nature, Jesus bore our sins, endured suffering and pain, took our punishment on him, and died in our place on the cross. While on that cross, Jesus cried out, “I thirst,” so that we who trust in his saving work will never again cry, “I thirst” but will ever be satisfied. Are you thirsty, my friend? Then come to Jesus, who alone can satisfy the thirst of your soul. In him, you will find the river of living waters that will never dry up and will always satisfy you. There is nothing besides Him that can satisfy your soul’s thirst. So, come and drink from this everlasting river, Jesus!

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