Summary: Three words that reveal the wonderful humanity of God the Son - the One who knows what it’s like to be one of us.
What’s it like to be crucified? Have you ever imagined how it must have been? A medical doctor gives a physical description... (adapted)
“As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint wrenching cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level - the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues and the tortured lungs are making frantic efforts to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send the flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasps, “I am thirsty”’”
Today we come to the fifth word from the cross. A very simple statement: I am thirsty. Let’s begin by looking at the details surrounding that statement...
1) The Details
First, verse 28 starts, “Later, knowing that all was now completed...”
It’s later. In other words, it’s after Jesus has said to Mary, Woman, here is your son. It’s after Jesus has cried out, My God, my God why have you forsaken me. At that time Jesus knew it had been completed. Yes, even as he hung there he knew that it was mission accomplished. He – an sinless, representative man – had been punished for the sins of the world. The sacrifice was complete. And Jesus knew it.
Second, the verse continues, “...and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled”
That was the Scripture written by David, 950 years before. A prophecy, if you turn to Psalm 69:21 where it says, “they... gave me vinegar for my thirst”.
So many details of the crucifixion were predicted by the prophets. It was all part of the unfolding plan of God. So that when Jesus died for us, we would notice it and recognise it.
Third, verse 29 continues, “A jar of wine vinegar was there... they soaked a sponge in it... and lifted it to Jesus’ lips”.
Wine vinegar sounds horrible to us. But it was cheap drink. Roman soldiers would sit around waiting for the crucified to die. As they waited they would have a few drinks. And Jesus drank what they offered him. Amazingly the soldiers had pity on the dying Jesus. This was an act of mercy to a dying man.
2) The Parallels
How can it be that this man nailed to the cross is the One who said to the Samaritan woman “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst”.
How can it be that this man nailed to the cross is the One who said, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me...streams of living water will flow from within him”
Jesus talked a lot about thirst. He once said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. In other words, blessed are those who have hunger for God and his ways. Blessed are those who aren’t content to be filled up with the best the world can give. But who want God – and want to follow him.
3) Christ’s Humanity
And now he is saying, “I am thirsty”. And in these words we see his wonderful humanity.
You see, in our love for Jesus, we sometimes make a mistake! We sometimes fall into the heresy of Docetism! A Docetic view of Jesus is that Jesus was divine but only had the appearance of being human. When we say things like, God, you don’t understand what I’m going though - you don’t know what it’s like to be human. Or when we think that living on earth and dying on a cross was easy for Jesus because he was God – that’s a Docetic, heretical, view of Jesus Christ. Because not only is Jesus 100% God, he is 100% human.
And those simple words, “I am thirsty” remind us that the Christian Gospel is utterly different to any world religion. The words ‘I am thirsty’ reveal a God who is also human. A God who knows what suffering and thirst feels like...
If we stop for a moment and ask, What does the Koran teach about suffering?