Summary: "I thirst" is a statement from the cross that was only recorded by John in his gospel. I believe there was at least three reasons why God inspired to John to record that statment. This sermons looks at those three reasons.
Last week our fourth statement from the cross that we looked at was perhaps the most agonizing statement of all. I believe as Christ took on the sins of the world, that sin that was upon Him separated Him from His Father and in that time of spiritual agony He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Christ experienced that spiritual agony of being separated from His Father so we wouldn’t have to be.
Today we will look at the fifth statement and it comes from the gospel of John.
“I am thirsty.” It’s such a simple and short statement. How many times have you said that statement during your life? I can’t tell you how many times my kids have come to me and said, “I am thirsty.” It’s a common condition of the human body. Your body has to have so much water or liquid in it for it to function properly. If you fail to hydrate your body the way you should it can cause you to pass out. I remember back in 1996 when me and my friend Scott took 60 of our Senior Highs out to Phoenix, Arizona for the International Youth Convention. We did a work camp in inner city Phoenix after the convention was over. Because of the heat at that time of the year they wouldn’t let us work past 11:00am. Of course they got us up at the crack of dawn. But they lectured us that you must keep drinking water while you’re in the heat. They told us that if you waited until you were thirsty, it was too late you would be dehydrated. We ended up having to take one person to the hospital that didn’t listen well. Here on the cross Jesus’ body was dehydrated. With his loss of blood, his nervous tension and his exposure to the weather it had generated a raging thirst in Him. Besides the pain, the crucifixion was noted for causing dehydration. An interesting side note here, is that when the soldier gave him the sour wine it was on a hyssop reed that they put the sponge on. Some people think that it was mistranslated because a hyssop reed is only a stalk, like strong grass, and probably is only about two feet long. But when we go back to the very first Passover it was hyssop branches that they were suppose to use to put the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts with. It was the blood of the Passover lamb that saved the people of God, and here it was the blood of Christ that would save the world from sin. It’s one of the details that John tells us about that the other gospels didn’t. Of course John was the last gospel written and so I’m sure that there were things that He wanted to make sure were known, and that gave him the opportunity. But when it comes to the statement that Jesus made here, I believe that God inspired John to make sure that he recorded it for at least three reasons. This morning I want to look at what I think those three reasons are.
I believe the first reason that we are made aware of Jesus’ statement here is to show us that He really did experience a real and physical humanity. “When John was writing his gospel, round about A.D. 100, a certain tendency had arisen in religious and philosophical thought, called gnosticism. One of its great tenets was that spirit was altogether good and matter all together evil. Certain conclusions followed. One was that God, who was pure spirit, could never take upon himself a body, because that was matter, and matter was evil. They therefore taught that Jesus never had a real body. They said it was a phantom. They said, for instance, that when Jesus walked, his feet left no prints on the ground, because he was pure spirit in a phantom body.
They went on to argue that God could never really suffer, and that therefore Jesus never really suffered but went through the whole experience of the cross without any real pain. When the Gnostics thought like that, they believed that they were honoring God and honoring Jesus; but they were really destroying Jesus. If he was ever to redeem man, he must become man. He had to become what we are in order to make us what He is.” (The Gospel of John Vol. 2, The Daily Bible Study Series, Westminster Press, William Barclay, pp. 257,258) I believe that is why God inspired John to write what Jesus said here. He wanted John to show people that the pain that Jesus went through on the cross was real. The humanity and suffering of Jesus was real. Jesus’ thirst here was real. When Christ went through the temptation in the wilderness for those forty days, the hunger that Christ went through for that period of time was real. That’s why Satan tried to tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread. Satan knew that Christ was fully human and experiencing the pain of hunger like any human would who hadn’t had food in forty days. That’s why Satan took him to the highest point of the temple and tried to get him to throw himself off the temple and test God who would save Him. Why would that be such a big deal if Christ’ body weren’t capable of being crushed and broken in a jump like that. Why would Christ pray in so much agony in the Garden of Gethsemane that He began to literally sweat blood over what He was getting ready to go through. And doctors will tell you that it is absolutely humanly possible to do that. But if his pain weren’t real it would be no sweat. I think that God not only wanted the Gnostics of that time to know that Jesus’ pain and suffering was real. But I think He wants us to know that as well. The physical pain and torture that Jesus went through, He went through for you and I. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of their rejection of Him those tears were tears of real hurt and pain. Even though Jesus isn’t in the flesh today I wonder if he might not be shedding tears over those of us who continue to reject Him in our lives today. He went through the pain and suffering and the discomforts of the human body for you and I.