From the Cross: "I Thirst"
This may be one of the closest places we get, in all of God’s word, to the peak of true sacrifice. Jesus has suffered flogging, mocking, a twisted crown of thorns, and public humiliation. He is on trial despite his perfect innocence.
Amidst this agony, priests and their officials are shouting “Crucify! Crucify!” but Pilate can find no cause for crucifixion. The Jews want him dead because he claims to be the Son of God.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible appears in this story, before Jesus heads to the cross. It’s his unforgettable response to a frightened Pilate, who is unsure of what to decide, as he stares into the eyes of man who claims to be God.
When Pilate power-plays Jesus, threatening: “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answers:
“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:9-11)
In this one amazing statement, Jesus reminds humanity that God alone is in control.
Pilate caves, as Jesus knew he would, and hands Jesus over to be crucified. The events that unfold up to his groan of thirst are foretold in Psalm 69. He is shamed and scorned, he is with no comforters, and they “gave me vinegar for my thirst” (Psalm 69:21).
As Jesus hangs on the cross, soldiers cast lots to divide his clothes as his mother and the disciple whom he loved bear witness.
And at last:
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)
All throughout Scripture, we find that Jesus, although fully God and man, experiences the same rejection, pain, and sadness we feel when the world presses in, or the enemy whispers lies, or we feel utterly destitute. There is nothing you face that Jesus doesn’t understand, and can carry you through.
According to Gill’s Exposition, this cry of Jesus, “I thirst,” while perishing for our redemption on the cross was literally true of him. But even more so, it may also be understood spiritually of his great thirst and eager desire after the salvation of his people.
Benson Commentary explains that even as they contemptuously sponged Jesus’ mouth with vinegar on a hyssop, he transcends the pain. Benson describes Jesus’ mindset this way:
“The predictions of the prophets that respect my personal ministry are all fulfilled. The important work of man’s redemption is accomplished. The demands of the law, and of divine justice, are satisfied, and my sufferings are now at an end.”
In his book, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross, A.W. Pink reminds us that Jesus overlooks nothing. He sees all, knows all, and speaks truth. As he cries out in thirst, he is remembering the one prophetic scripture remaining to accomplish. Amidst incomparable anguish, his mind and memory don’t fail. His love flows out for eternity as he lives beyond the cross. Because of this historical account, we can know that when we bring our thirst to Jesus, he understands. As you cry out in prayer, His living presence has the power to refill your dry soul with sustaining peace.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Lia Martin, iBelieve website