Summary: Jesus calls us to living streams of water in order to satisfy our souls thirst.
First Baptist Church
March 10, 2002
I’ve never considered myself a green thumb. I’ve never been very successful keeping houseplants alive. There was one time in my bachelor life, when I had five plants and everyone of them was dead. You know why they died. They didn’t receive the nourishment they needed . . . water. About two years ago, in July, we traveled to Chicago for one of my doctoral classed. We were gone for about 10 days. During the time we were gone, the temperature was about 95 everyday. There was little rain and when we came home our impatience were, you know what . . . they were dead. No watering was going to revive them.
Have you been there with your gardens. Remember last summer? There was very little rain, although, the weather people were predicting rain about every other day, it just didn’t seem to hit Ashland. If you didn’t help your garden along, your flowers and vegetables dried up and died.
And what about you and I? We need water too. Have you ever felt as if you were bone dry? Maybe you were working in the hot sun and the sweat was dripping off and a glass of cold water or iced tea hit the spot. When you think about those times when our mouth is parched, our tongue is dry and we don’t think we can do another thing until we get that drink of water — we can gain a new and greater appreciation for Jesus’ 5th statement from the cross. It was a simple statement, He didn’t cry out with a loud voice, in fact, I presume it was softly said, "I am thirsty!"
What is the point of this 5th statement from the cross? Is this merely a statement about a physical reality or is there something in this statement from Jesus that you and I can take with us? So, with that in mind let’s take a closer look at this statement by Jesus.
Think about the past 24 hours for Jesus. He had shared an emotional last meal with His disciples. He had prayed so hard and desperately in the garden of Gethsemane that Luke tells us Jesus’ sweat contained drops of blood. He was arrested and stood trial. Then He was beaten, whipped, mocked, spit upon and stripped naked. He had not slept nor had He had any food or drink. And now for the past 6 hours Jesus had been hanging from the cross with the sins of the world being heaped upon Him.
It’s been said that one of the effects of hanging from the cross is that you begin to suffer from extreme dehydration. The loss of blood, the nervous tension and the exposure to the hot sun would have led Jesus to have a raging thirst. On the one hand your lungs are filling up with fluid which asphyxiates the person, and at the same time your tongue becomes very swollen because of the immense dehydration.
That was the physical situation for Jesus. John now tells us that in order to fulfill the scriptures Jesus said, "I am thirsty." Jesus is referring Psalm 69:21, which states, "They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst." It was of great concern and importance to Jesus that everything that He was doing and all that He stood for was being accomplished according to the plan God had set out for Him. So the guards took pity on Jesus and gave Him some of their drink. We must be aware that the drink the guards gave Jesus is different than the one He was offered earlier. The earlier one, was a narcotic and was meant to dull the pain. Jesus refused that drink. But He accepts a taste of this drink from the guards. The drink was simply a cheap wine which soldiers and peasants drank. After satisfying His thirst Jesus would be able to proclaim His final two words from the cross.
One other point about the drink, John tells us that the sponge soaked drink was handed to Jesus via a hyssop branch. Do you recall ever hearing of a hyssop branch? It was used to spread the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of Israelite homes during the first Passover. In taking on the sins of the world, Jesus became that lamb, a sacrifice for you and I.
We may be shocked to hear our Savior cry out just as you and I would. Yet, the suffering of Jesus was real. He had no special exemptions, not because He was God’s Son, in fact, those exemptions for suffering were taken on by Jesus, so we wouldn’t have to suffer them. His experience of physical pain was as deep and real as any that we would experience. This helps us better understand the words from Hebrews 2 . . . words which are directed to those experiencing pain —