In his final hours on the cross, Jesus spoke his “Last Seven Words.” Not simple words, but phrases rich and deep with meaning for those who proclaim him “Jesus, Savior, Redeemer and Lord.” We continue our exploration of these extraordinary words of our Lord.
The Fifth Word: “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
Our dear Lord Jesus hangs on the cross, his grieving mother looks on. He is bleeding profusely from the beating given him before he was brought to the place of crucifixion. “Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.” (Mark 15:22-23, NRSV) As was the custom prior to nailing the condemned to the cross, Roman soldiers offered Jesus an anesthetic drink (wine or vinegar mixed with myrrh) to help ease his suffering, but he did not take it. This was likely due to Jesus’ need to fully experience the agony of the cross, to fulfill his mission to take on the entire weight of humanity’s sin.
After hours of hanging on the cross, Jesus would have lost a lot of blood and other bodily fluids such as sweat so it is not at all surprising that he would be thirsty. “A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.” (John 19:29, NRSV) This time Jesus drank. His human body desperately needed it.
His physical thirst is not the only reason for this declaration from the cross. He uttered these words to fulfill messianic prophecy. When John wrote his account of the crucifixion (remember he was the only disciple present), he included Jesus’ “I am thirsty” in response to a passage from the Psalms: “Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalm 69:20-21)
When I think of this word from the cross, I am reminded that Jesus himself is the living water promised to the Samaritan woman at the well. “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Jesus is referring here to a passage from Isaiah: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3, NRSV) Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that you and I may drink the living water of eternal life. Profess Christ as Lord and never thirst again.
Lord, God, once again I thank you for the sacrifice of your Son. In his death and resurrection, my thirst for salvation is satisfied. Remind me to continue to seek the Living Water, Your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Help me remember the words of the Psalmist: “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1, NRSV) “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2a, NRSV). Amen
Thirsty for God,