Summary: An Easter sermonette, one of eight that will delivered on Good Friday at Colombo Central Corps, Sri Lanka. Short for it is to be translated, in what is a three hour service.
Later knowing that it was now completed, and so the 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 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)
The scripture that was fulfilled was Psalm 22, in this Psalm of David we are able to read in this prophetic word a depiction of the crucifixion,
“Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.” (Psalm 22:12-18)
The dryness and thirst that Jesus was feeling at that time was feeling was like his mouth was a potsherd, broken crockery, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. This was thirst like none of us have ever felt, this was the thirst of a man denied of that vital requirement of life, water. Denied as his lungs filled with his own fluids, denied as he bleed from the wounds inflicted by those he came to serve. This was the thirst of a man all but dead.
Have you ever wondered what those standing nearby would have thought, the educated scribes and Pharisees and the others who came to gloat at this death. As they saw Psalm 22 played out in front of their eyes. The words of Jesus, that Colonel Marieke shared having pointed those educated people’s minds directly to the first verse of Psalm 22. I think many that day would have realized what they had done at that time in killing their Messiah.
Jesus knew what he was to encounter. There is something about Good Friday that leaves us waiting, we are caught up in a mystery, we see Jesus broken, his hands and feet pierced, the slow and painful death he died, his thirst only quenched by a bitter drink delivered at the end of the branch of a bitter herb, and why did he go through this? Why was the hyssop branch used to deliver the drink? This herb Hyssop was seen by the Jewish people as a symbol of cleansing and redemption. The blood on the doorways at the Passover of the angel of death in Egypt was painted on with a branch of hyssop. David in his great Psalm of repentance says, “"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Psalm 51: 7. This plant was used in rituals for sprinkling on sacrifices and for purification.
With this act of taking the wine vinegar, with this final act of purification and knowing that all had been completed, and so that scripture could be fulfilled, Jesus said “I am Thirsty” That drink delivered, in his last act of swallowing the bitterness that had been presented to him, Jesus fulfilled the scriptures!