Summary: Our Lord’s cry, “I THIRST,” is a poignant reminder to us that, no matter what the cost, we have been called to a life of obedience.
Gladys Aylward was a missionary to China and her labors were chronicled in the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.On one occasion she suffered terribly during a journey across the mountains of China in order to bring a hundred orphans to safety. Ranging in age from four to fifteen-years-old, these children were saved because of Gladys’s faithful obedience to God. But it was not without cost. When she arrived with the orphans, she was gravely ill and almost delirious. She suffered internal injuries from a beating by the Japanese invaders in the mission compound. In addition, she suffered from relapsing fever, typhus, pneumonia, malnutrition, shock and fatigue.
Through her ordeal Gladys learned more about obedience to Christ.She learned to choose Christ over everything else life had to offer, so much so that when the man she loved came to visit her as she was recovering and asked to marry him, she declined. In her heart she knew she could not marry him and continue the work God had for her among the orphans of China. Out of her obedience to God, she went to the train station with the man she loved and said good-by to him and they never met again(Character Forged From Conflict)
Gladys continued serving God faithfully in China and England until her death.Obedience to God is not always easy, nevertheless, it is something God expects from us.
The fifth word from the cross speaks to us of Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father. It speaks of the suffering Christ endured in obeying the will of God. It was His only reference to the unbearable physical pain He endured. Our text informs us that Jesus instinctively uttered a spontaneous cry of intense suffering when he shouted, “I THIRST.” “Up to this moment no word of his own need had escaped his lips.His thoughts had been for others. It was not until all else had been accomplished - his murderers forgiven, his loved ones provided for, a penitent thief welcomed home to paradise - that our Savior thought of the agony racking his tortured body.” It is worth noticing that Jesus did not ask for liquid to quench His burning thirst but simply stated the fact of His physical need. When our Lord cried out from the cross saying, “WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?”, it was a cry of spiritual desolation. When He cried saying, “I THIRST”, it was a cry of physical desolation. “It is well known that thirst was a supreme cause of distress for those who were put to death by crucifixion.The need which wrung that complaint from Jesus’ lips must have been bitter beyond all our understanding.
He must have been wracked with pain in every muscle of his body and in every fiber of his being while he hung there on the cross. With the coming of the hot sun, he finally realized the point where the anguish of a fevered body was unbearable.It was as though all the pains of death were absorbed in a single conscious feeling, and the terrible suffering of nerves and limbs was all expressed in the lament, “I THIRST.” That cry of physical desolation has not been lost or silenced as it comes hurdling down through centuries of passing time.