We are in a series called Final Words, looking at the last words of Jesus on the cross. The fifth saying is the shortest. In the NKJV it reads, “I thirst.” In the NIV it reads, “I am thirsty.” In the Greek text it’s only one word. Even though this statement is short, it is full of meaning. From it we see:
Jesus was all God and all man, fully divine and fully human. He was man enough to be hungry and thirsty, and to weep and die, yet He was God enough to be the Bread of Life, the Living Water, to dry every tear from our eyes, and to rise from the dead. As God, He could say, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” As man He could say, “I thirst.” It was a physical thirst, but more than physical, it was also spiritual. He was enduring the heat of the wrath of God poured out on the sin of the world. The Shepherd of our soul understands the struggles of the sheep. When you are hurting or grieving, He will give you grace for the burden you carry. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16). Jesus understands the pain of rejection, injustice, and thirst. He entered our world and participated in our suffering. Whatever we may be experiencing today, we can know with confidence that Jesus experienced all that and more. He can identify with our needs and our pain.
This fifth statement Jesus made is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:14-15, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.” Crucifixion drained the life out of a person. They suffered from dehydration, their lips parched, their body ached. Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? To fulfill the prophecy in Micah 5:2. Why did Joseph and Mary flee from Herod and take Jesus to Egypt? To fulfill Hosea 11:1. Why did Jesus perform his ministry and miracles in Galilee? To fulfill Isaiah 9. Jesus honored and obeyed the Scriptures. We need to teach our children the Word of God and teach them to obey and honor the Word of God. The soldier could not have given Him water or wine. It had to be vinegar to fulfill every detail of the prophecy, including the type of drink. That is how much you can trust the word of God.
Someone had the privilege of giving our Lord a drink. Think about it. He needed that drink to be able to utter the words, “It is finished!” The one who created the heavens and the earth, the rivers and the rain, who had all the resources of the universe at His disposal, took a drink from one of the soldiers. Jesus is still thirsty! Matthew 25:34-40 reminds us that whatever we do for the “least of these” we do unto Him. Mark 9:41 says, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” We have the privilege of serving those around us and serving our Lord.
On the cross, Jesus experienced both physical and spiritual suffering. Warren Wiersbe says there were three cups at Calvary. The first is found in Matthew 27:33-34 when Jesus was given sour wine but He would not drink it. Why? Leviticus 10:8-9 says, “Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: ‘Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.” Jesus fulfilled all the law. He is our High Priest! In John 19 our Lord drank the bitter cup. He drank only vinegar. The third was the cup found in Matthew 26:39, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me but not my will but your will be done.” John 18:11 says, “…Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” This was the cup of God’s wrath on your sin and mine. Jesus had just cried out, “My God, My God Why have you forsaken me?” Hell is separation from God. The Father turned his back on Jesus as He who knew no sin became sin for us. Hell is a lake of fire. It is a place of torment and thirst. Jesus took our hell for us.
Thirst is a sign of life. Every mother knows a baby is born thirsty. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” What are you thirsty for? Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (Jn. 7:37-38). Jesus was referring to Exodus 17 when Moses struck the rock and water flowed out. Jesus was smitten on the cross for us so that we might have the water of life. Whoever drinks of what the world offers will be thirsty again. Whoever drinks of what Jesus offers will never be thirsty again (Jn. 4:14). Only Jesus satisfies. Only the living water can satisfy the thirst you are longing for. Rev 7:16-17 says, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The last invitation of the Bible is “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17). We are talking about “A Word of Desire.” God’s desire is for you to spend eternity with Him and to live an abundant life while here on earth. It is free for the asking because of all that Jesus endured.
1. Cries from the Cross, Lutzer, pg 112.
2. The Cross of Jesus, Wiersbe, pg 102.