THE THIRST OF JESUS ON THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, January 24, 2010

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28).


“All things were now accomplished.” Jesus had fulfilled the great prophecies of the Old Testament regarding His crucifixion. He had been despised and rejected by His people. They had hidden their faces from Him and did not esteem Him as their Saviour, as Isaiah 53 foretold in prophecy. He had borne our sins on the Cross, exactly as Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 53:5-6). They had pierced His hands and feet, as it was prophesied in Psalm 22:16, “They pierced my hands and my feet.” The soldiers at the foot of His Cross had fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 22:18, “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” All of these prophecies, and many others, had been fulfilled. So, when Jesus had spoken from the Cross telling John to care for His mother, “after this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished,” said one more thing, “that the scripture might be fulfilled.” To completely fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures, He said,

“I thirst.”

This fulfilled two remarkable prophecies in the Old Testament. First, it fulfilled Psalm 22:15,

“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” (Psalm 22:15).

After hanging on the Cross for hours, without a drink of water, His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth, and He could barely speak.

The second prophecy that was fulfilled was given in Psalm 69:21,

“They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21).

To fulfill these Scriptures, Jesus said,

“I thirst” (John 19:28).

These words are the shortest of the sayings He gave from the Cross. In English it is two words, but in the Greek it is only one short word, correctly translated by two words in English,

“I thirst.”

From that saying we can deduce many great truths, but tonight I only have time to give you three of them, drawn from the words which came from the parched lips of the dying Saviour, when He said,

“I thirst.”

I. First, the thirst of Jesus was a sign of His humanity.

It is not at all strange that He thirsted. Earlier, as Jesus travelled through Samaria, He was tired from the journey and asked the woman at Jacob’s well, “Give me to drink” (John 4:7). It is not strange, then, that at the end of His life – after being flogged half to death and nailed to the Cross for hours – that He should say,

“I thirst.”

His thirst shows us His true humanity. It is the thirst of a man, a human being. On two occasions the Disciples thought that He was a spirit. When He walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee and “the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit” (Matthew 14:26). But “Jesus spake unto them, saying…It is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Again, on the evening that He rose from the dead, He appeared to the Disciples and said, “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

“But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37).

But Jesus calmed their fears and said,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

In both cases Jesus let them know that He was fully human, and not simply a “spirit Christ.” The idea of a “spirit Christ” is utterly false, and one of the dangerous signs of false religion. Jesus predicted that, “There shall arise false Christs” (Matthew 24:24). The “spirit Christ” of the new-age movement, and many cults, is not the true Christ. The “spirit Christ” of these false religions was called “another Jesus” by the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 11:4, because “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). A “spirit Christ” is not the real Jesus!

Jesus created the heavens and the earth according to John 1:1-3.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

Thus we learn that Jesus is both God and man – the God-man by hypostatic union. We must never forget His divinity, as the Second Person of the Trinity. But we are reminded by His thirst on the Cross that He was also fully human. We can say of Jesus what Adam said of Eve,

“This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”
       (Genesis 2:23).

This pictures His incarnation. He was sent down from Heaven into the Virgin Mary, and was born as the God-man from her womb,

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman…” (Galatians 4:4).

Spurgeon said,

      How truly man he is; he is indeed, “bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh,” for he bears our infirmities…Jesus was proved to be really man, because he suffered the pains which belong to manhood. Angels cannot suffer thirst. A phantom [spirit], as some have called him could not suffer in this fashion; but Jesus really suffered [and He] endured thirst to an extreme degree, for it was the thirst of death that came upon him… That thirst was caused…by the loss of blood, and the fever created by the irritation caused by his four grievous wounds…as the weight of his body dragged the nails through his blessed flesh, and tore his tender nerves. The extreme tension produced a burning feverishness. It was pain that dried his mouth and made it like an oven, till he declared, in the language of the twenty-second Psalm, “My tongue cleaveth to my jaws.” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Shortest of the Seven Cries,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1972, volume XXIV, pp. 219-220).

I have seen friends on their death beds who cried out for water. But the doctors held it back because they could not swallow. What a horrible thing to see a man like that, with no water to quench His dying thirst! I have said, “Give him a taste of water, he’s dying anyway!” But those doctors, fearing lawsuits more than humanitarianism, refused even a drop of water to cool those dying tongues! Spurgeon said,

      Our Lord was so truly man that all our griefs remind us of him: the next time [you] are truly thirsty [you] may gaze upon him; and whenever we see a friend…thirsting while dying we may [see Jesus’ suffering] dimly, but truly mirrored…How near [and how related to us] the thirsty Saviour is... (ibid.).

He is “Immanuel,” God with us, the God-man, even in the hour when we feel the thirst of death, because He said,

“I thirst.”

II. Second, the thirst of Jesus was a sign of His substitution for sinners.

Jesus said, “I thirst” because He is the sinner’s suffering substitute. Adam ate the forbidden fruit with his mouth and, therefore, through his mouth came the fruit that poisoned all mankind.

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12),

through the mouth of the first Adam, making all his descendants “dead in your sins” (Colossians 2:13). So it is fitting that the last Adam, Jesus, should pay for the sin of the first Adam’s mouth by suffering pain in His own mouth! Adam’s mouth “was the door to sin, and therefore in [His mouth] our Lord was put to pain” (Spurgeon, ibid., p. 222). Furthermore, the depravity of our nature comes forth from our mouths. Jesus said,

“Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” (Matthew 15:18).

On the Cross, Jesus was pierced in the heart with a spear, so the sins of our hearts could be pardoned. He wore a crown of piercing thorns, so that the sins of our minds could be forgiven. His hands were nailed to the Cross so that the sins we commit with our hands could be pardoned. His feet were nailed to the wood so the sins we commit by walking to them and in them could be justified. And He thirsted till His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth, horrible thirst! to heal the sins of our mouths.

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

The Apostle Peter tells us that Jesus “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24). Surely these verses make it plain that the thirst of Jesus was part of the suffering He went through, as our substitute, on the Cross. He said,

“I thirst”

so every sin that has come out of your mouth could be punished in His mouth! Oh! wonderful Saviour! Thou hast suffered so we can live! Thy mouth endured great pain in our place – so the sins of our mouths could be atoned for, expiated, and cleansed by the Blood that flowed from Thy parched and bleeding lips!

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”
       (Romans 5:8).

“For Christ…suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).

Jesus said,

“I thirst,”

and that suffering thirst atoned for the sinful words from every human mouth, of every person who comes to Him. But there is one more thought.

III. Third, the thirst of Jesus can spare you from the thirst of Hell.

The Gospel of Luke tells us of a man who died,

“and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…And he cried…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” (Luke 16:22-24).

If Jesus had not suffered thirst on the Cross, every one of us would have to suffer thirst in Hell. Spurgeon said, “Our sinful tongues…must have burned for ever [in Hell] had not [Jesus’] tongue been tormented with thirst in our stead” (ibid., pp. 222-223) – in our place on the Cross! Please stand and sing hymn number six on your song sheet – to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow.” Sing the second, third and fourth stanzas.

See how His hands and feet are nailed;
His throat with parching thirst is dried;
His failing eyes are filled with blood;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

Come let us stand beneath the Cross;
So may the blood from out His side
Fall gently on us drop by drop;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

A broken heart, eyes filled with tears,
Ask, and you will not be denied;
Lord Jesus, may we love and weep,
Since Thou for us art crucified.
   (“They Crucified Him” by Frederick William Faber, 1814-1863;
      altered by Dr. Hymers).

Augustine said, “The cross was a pulpit, in which Christ preached his love to the world.” It’s true! He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin because He loves you! He went through the agony and pain to save you from eternal suffering because He loves you! Will you say to Jesus, “I don’t want your love!” Or will you say to Him,

I am coming, Lord!
   Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
   That flowed on Calvary?
(“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 19:23-28.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“A Song for the Foot of the Cross” (by John Chandler, 1837).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE THIRST OF JESUS ON THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28).

(Isaiah 53:5-6; Psalm 22:16, 18, 15; Psalm 69:21)

I.   First, the thirst of Jesus was a sign of His humanity, John 4:7;
Matthew 14:26, 27; Luke 24:36, 37, 39; Matthew 24:24;
II Corinthians 11:4; John 1:1-3; Genesis 2:23; Galatians 4:4.

II.  Second, the thirst of Jesus was a sign of His substitution for sinners,
Romans 5:12; Colossians 2:13; Matthew 15:18; Isaiah 53:5-6;
I Peter 2:24; Romans 5:8; I Peter 3:18.

III. Third, the thirst of Jesus can spare you from the thirst of Hell,
Luke 16:22-24.