- I Thirst
- John 19:28
- Lyndol Loyd March 19, 2017
We have been spending time during this season of Lent looking at the different statements Jesus made as he was hanging on the cross. We’ve been finding that these statements each have incredible theological significance and that they are impactful and relevant to how we live our lives today. Today, we look at John 19:28, “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’”
There are some key words here. It says, “Later, knowing that all was now completed.” You’ve got to understand that Jesus lived His life, not like many of us where we are thrown by circumstances. I call that circumstantial living. Thrown by things that are happening in this life and there are emotional cries that come out. We say things that we don’t really mean, or we mean things we don’t really say.
Jesus, when He spoke, said things that were calculated. He meant what He said. And a lot of what Jesus actually said, if you read through the Gospels, was Messianic. His whole priority was to fulfill all of the Messianic prophecies. A lot of these, if you look back through the Old Testament, actually relate back to things that had happened. We are talking about a Messiah to come and when He said things, He was confirming to everybody, I am the One.
“Later, knowing that all was now completed and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:28-30
What does Jesus mean when He says, “I am thirsty”? Or some translations put it, ”I thirst”? Because we know that He doesn’t just say things without any reason, there is a purpose behind it. Knowing that everything is now fulfilled, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, He says this one statement, “I thirst”. There’s got to be a reason behind that.
To get the answer you have to take a look at Scripture as a whole. In fact, if you go into Exodus 7 and 8, you will start to discover that there is a period in the Israelite history where they have come out of slavery. They are complaining about not having anything to drink. What they actually say is, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to cause us to die of thirst?” “I thirst” is what they are saying.
The Spirit of the Lord, back then, through Moses, was to lead them to an area where they could drink. Go to the rock and water will come out of the rock and a covenant was made that day because the people complained.
This is the statement they were complaining about, “Is God among us or not? Is God really here or not?” This is my take on things. I think Jesus said, “I thirst” because He was fulfilling Messianic prophecy from the Old Testament to say, ‘You’re wondering, am I the one or not? Is this really the Christ or not?’ He’s saying, ‘I thirst’.”
When we reference Scripture, we need to have if flash up on the screen or pull out our Bibles or phones so we can know what it says. We are not like the Jewish people who grew up knowing Scripture, who grew up rote learning. You wouldn’t let them leave your house without reciting the commands of the Lord on your doorpost, overhead, you had them on your hand, on your forehead. You had to memorize the Scriptures.
They knew, as soon as Jesus said a phrase, what passage he was referring to. So, when He said, “I am thirsty”, that would have taken them all the way back to the Old Testament, to Exodus 7:8, where the Israelites were complaining about being thirsty and they had to go to the Rock to get a drink of water.
Here is Jesus, the Rock of Ages, on the cross saying, “I am thirsty”; in order to fulfill all Scripture, knowing that everything now is ready to be completed. He says, “I thirst”, and He says, “I thirst” to let everyone know, “You are wondering if I am here or not. Here I am!’
I started thinking about Matthew 5:6 where Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is about a relationship with God, being in a right step with God, and everything about that is to seek a life of righteousness. Now, we are not righteous because of what we do, we are righteous because of what He did on the cross. My inner thirst, my hunger, my appetite is quenched when I enter into a relationship with Christ. He thirsts so that I can be satisfied.
I’ve got to figure out where am I going to get my thirst filled?
Have you ever been thirsty? Have you ever been like really, really parched? Really, really thirsty? Do you remember a time when your tongue was sticking to the roof of your mouth? Crazy thirsty?
In my high school days in Wheeler, Texas I used to play football. I can tell you that there is nothing like two-a-day workouts in the middle of August in the Texas Panhandle. Our afternoon workout was at 3:00 p.m. right during the hottest time of the day when temperatures would reach somewhere between 90-100 degrees. And we all know that here in West Texas it is very dry. I remember days when I would be physically pushed to the limit and at the same time so incredibly thirsty during those workouts. I was so thirsty, that my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth. You would get what we used to call “cotton mouth”. That is about as thirsty as I think I have ever been.
I don’t think Jesus was just saying, “I am thirsty” because He was actually thirsty; we are talking about a guy who went out into the desert for forty days and forty nights with no food and no drink, to be tempted by Satan himself. He knew how to go without.
When He was on the cross for a couple of hours and He said, “I am thirsty”, I have a feeling that this phrase was more about what He could give us than what He actually needed.
We have to figure out how to live a life that brings us into a space where we actually live with the Well within. There has to be something that bubbles up on the inside that helps us get to what God wants for us.
We thirst for lots of different things. We hunger for different things. It could be something to do with marriage or family. You might have a picture of a better day. You think about where you want marriage to be, maybe it’s some kind of intimacy, maybe it’s got something to do with work, or striving for something of success, whatever that might mean, or perhaps there are parts of life that you’ve got a real thirst for. You’re really thirsty, you’re so dry on the inside and you want this to really work out. Maybe you just want some stability. Maybe you long for peace.
There’s this amazing story in John 4:1-26. If you have a look at this with me.
1 Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[c] where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”
Think about what takes place in this story. Jesus is traveling. He’s tired. He stops to take a break while the disciples go to get some food. They’ve worked up an appetite and it’s time for some lunch. When all of the sudden here comes a Samaritan woman.
Jews, like Jesus, and Samaritans, like this woman, wouldn’t have normally had anything to do with each other. It’s sort of like Longhorns vs. Aggies – the two don’t mix.
But here comes this woman, in the middle of the day, to draw water, which was unusual. Most people would go and fill their water jugs in the morning or evening, but not at midday. It was a hot time of the day.
So you have to ask yourself, “Why would this woman get water at this time?” It seems pretty obvious to me that she really doesn’t want to be around anyone else.
As we find out more about her life we can surmise that maybe the reason she doesn’t want to be around anyone else is because of all the broken relationships in her life. She’s been through a cycle of five bad marriages in a row and she is living with some man now who isn’t even her husband. The brokenness of her relationships impacts who she is and even determines where she goes and when she goes.
It is safe to say that she would have been a social outcast who now found herself living on the margins of society. Maybe the reason she didn’t want to come when other people would have been at the well was because she knew that no one wanted to have anything to do with her either.
The truth is that this woman is thirsty. She’s been trying to quench her spiritual thirst in all kinds of ways and nothing has been working. She’s tried finding a sense of fulfillment by always having a man in her life, but that hasn’t gotten her anywhere fast. She’s tried filling herself up with experiences, but they have only left her empty.
Somehow, despite social barriers, stigma, shame and brokenness the thirst of Jesus to do the will of his heavenly Father causes him to see this woman. His longing becomes to show her how her spiritual thirst can be quenched once and for all.
No longer does her sin have to define her. No longer does she have to keep striving and searching. The life that she has been looking for is right in front of her.
Jesus offers her living water and as he speaks, the light bulb is starting to come one for her. She knows that she needs what Jesus is talking about. She knows that what he is talking about sounds awfully good, that there is a chance this would make a difference in her life.
But first, Jesus deals with the sin in her life. He knows all about this woman. He knows her past, but he offers her the opportunity to come clean about what her life has been and what it is right now.
As he acknowledges her truth she realizes this man is a prophet. She may have brokenness in her life, but she’s not a fool. She’s heard the prophesy about a Messiah who would come one day. She knows the teaching. She knows that there will be a day when the Messiah will come and everything will be explained. She just didn’t understand that the Messiah was right in front of her.
Jesus reveals himself to her. He didn’t reveal Himself to very many people. He does to this woman, and I think it’s to show us something about thirst. I think the real thirst of Jesus is actually that we would receive His life and that we would become life-giving people, that we would learn how to give life to others.
Could it be that, this morning, Jesus Christ is revealing himself to you in the words “I thirst”? Could it be that, like the Samaritan woman, you have brokenness in your life that needs to be filled? Could it be that you’ve been thirsting and hungering for things that will not satisfy?
If so, Jesus stands ready to make you the exact same offer. He wants to offer you living water that springs up into eternal life. He wants you to know that it is possible to thirst no more.
This morning I want to invite you to make a spiritual journey to the cross and to know that Jesus meets you there. I want you to ask yourself what it is that you have been thirsting for in this life. Maybe you even want to write it down on the edge of your bulletin as a way of acknowledging your thirst. We intentionally delayed the time when we normally have our call to the altar for prayer. I would encourage you to come forward and ask Jesus to give you the living water you need this morning as we sing. Members of our prayer ministry and pastoral staff will be waiting her to pray with you if you would like. Just leave the palms of your hands open as a signal to come and pray with you. Experience the life-giving water of Jesus Christ that quenches our thirst.