The Lord Jesus Christ was on the Cross for six hours. During that time He spoke seven times, and only once did He make reference to His own physical sufferings. His first three utterances showed His love, mercy, compassion, and care for others (Lk 23.34,43; Jn 19.26,27). The fourth time He spoke He revealed His intense spiritual anguish (Mt 27.46; Mk 15.34). Despite the agony they inflicted upon Him, the Lord did not ask His tormentors for pity or mercy, and throughout His ordeal showed nothing but love and mercy toward them. The only time He made any reference to His own intense physical suffering was when He spoke the fifth time and made His shortest utterance, crying, "I thirst" (Jn 19.28).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten, eternal and beloved Son of God, became flesh "and dwelt among us" (Jn 1.14). He, the Seed of the woman (Gen 3.15), was born of a virgin (Is 7.14), having been conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt 1.18-20; Lk 1.35). He was sent by the Father (1 Jn 4.9), and came down from heaven which had been His dwelling place with His Father eternally (Jn 6.38). It was He, Christ Jesus, who had existed eternally in the form of God, who came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1.15), and He, the Son of Man, who came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk 19.10). God His Father "sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law" (Gal 4.4,5). The incarnation of the Lord, by which He was manifested in the flesh, is a great and profound mystery (1 Tim 3.16), which cannot be understood by finite human minds. He became what He never had been before, that is man, and yet never ceased to be what He is eternally, and that is God. We see two natures, deity and holy humanity, God and man in one Person. He had a perfect human body and was like us in every way apart from our sin (Heb 4.15; Rom 8.3 etc).
The humanity of the Lord was unique. It was holy, sinless humanity, and yet He was a real man. It was said concerning Him that "Never man spake like this man" (Jn 7.46). After He had stilled a storm on a lake His disciples said, "What manner of man is this!" (Lk 8.25). The woman at Sychars well saw a man (Jn 4.9,29), and Pilate said to the people, "Behold the man!" (Jn 19.5). He was referred to as a "man" by Peter (Acts 2.22), and by Paul (1 Tim 2.5). He referred to Himself as "a man" (Jn 8.40), but He is eternally God, and when they crucified Him it was not a mere man hanging on the centre cross, for they "crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2.8). After His resurrection He had hands and feet, and flesh and bones (Lk 24.39,40), and the marks of the crucifixion which were seen by His disciples (Jn 20.25-27) will be in His body eternally.
The Lord experienced, and therefore understands, the whole range of human feelings and emotions, other than those which are the result of having committed sin (Heb 2.17). He was hungry (Mt 21.18); thirsty (Jn 4.7; 19.28), and weary (Jn 4.6). He slept (Mk 4.38); He wept (Jn 11.35); He bled and died (Jn 19.30,33), and we know that "we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4.15).
The cry "I thirst" came from the Son of God who was a perfect man. It was as a result of His agony that He, the "altogether lovely" One (Song 5.16), gave this cry. His cry caused prophecy to be fulfilled, for we read that "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst" (Jn 19.28). In this verse we see both His deity and His humanity. Being God, He was omniscient and knew that, up to that moment in time, all the purposes for which He had come to earth had been accomplished. We also see His humanity for, as a man, He was suffering thirst. His cry was made not only that prophecy might be fulfilled, it was the fierce, burning, excruciating thirst He was suffering that forced from His lips the agonized cry. When this happened, prophecy was fulfilled, for we are told in Psalm 69.21 that "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink". In Psalm 22, that great Messianic, prophetic Psalm, we read, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death (v.15). Someone, probably a Roman soldier, "filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth" (Jn 19.29), and, in doing this, unknowingly fulfilled a prophecy made so long before. The "vinegar" given to Him was probably the sour wine which the soldiers and working men drank. When they had offered Him wine which had been mixed with gall, or myrrh, to alleviate the sufferings of crucifixion, He had refused to take it (Mt 27.34; Mk 15.23), for He intended to bear to the full the suffering which lay ahead of Him. However, He accepted the vinegar given to Him in response to His cry.
If we meditate on the words "I thirst", it will help us appreciate something of the Saviours love and grace, and His obedience to His Father, in going to the Cross. The Lord had created water and it issued from the rock to assuage the thirst of the suffering people (Ex 17.6), and yet He cried, "I thirst". The Lord did not, at any time while on earth, use His power for His own benefit but only for the benefit and blessing of others. All that preceded this cry had contributed to His physical sufferings, and now He hung on the Cross, with bones dislocated, suffering for our sins.
The Lord gave some insight into the terrible sufferings of the lost when He spoke of the rich man and Lazarus. He said that in hell the rich man cried, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame" (Lk 16.24). There was no relief for the man in hell, and the Lord, in taking our place and being punished for the guilt and penalty of our sin, suffered on our behalf the thirst that the lost will suffer forever in the lake of fire.
Christs thirst was not only physical. He thirsted in the three hours of darkness for fellowship and communion with His Father. The words in Psalm 42 describe His thirst: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God" (vv.1,2).
There is a thirst that is spiritual among people in the world. They are restless and dissatisfied in their ceaseless search for pleasure, not realising that the lasting happiness and true peace for which they yearn cannot be achieved when sought after as ends in themselves but are a result of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. God will "bless his people with peace" (Ps 29.11). That peace is "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Phil 4.7), and is independent of circumstances. People have a thirst, but they do not know what it is for which they thirst. Their thirst is a spiritual thirst and it is for the Living God (Ps 42.2; Jn 4.14). This is the thirst that only the Lord can satisfy, for He said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (Jn 7.37).
The Lord thirsts today for the love and fellowship of His blood-bought people. At Sychars well He said to the woman, "Give me to drink" (Jn 4.7). We do not read that He received the water He asked for, but that a poor suffering, disillusioned, dissatisfied woman, who craved for love, was saved that day and received the assurance from her Saviour that "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (Jn 4.14). Her salvation brought joy to the Lord.
The Lord said, "He that believeth on me shall never thirst" (Jn 6.35), and as a result of His suffering and death on the Cross there are those wonderful invitations in Revelation 22.17, where we read, "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely".
To be continued.