Sermon title: “I Thirst” John 19:28-29 Church of the Nazarene – Friday, March 30, 2018
Our Lord Jesus had already been hanging on the cross for hours
when he said, “I thirst.”
We read it at John 19:28-29,
28 After this, Jesus
knowing that all things were now accomplished,
that the scripture might be fulfilled,
saith, I thirst.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar:
and they filled a spunge with vinegar,
and put it upon hyssop,
and put it to his mouth.
Now, that wasn’t the “vinegar”
you have in your kitchen at home.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
tells us that the Greek word is “Oxos,”
which was sour wine.
It tells us that back in the 1st Century,
this was the ordinary drink of soldiers
and working men.
The Septuagint in its Greek version
of the Old Testament book of Ruth,
says at Ruth 2:14,[ OPEN ]
that the land-owner Boaz
offered this same “Oxos”
or sour wine, to the young woman Ruth,
when she joined Boaz and his harvesting crew
in the field.
“At mealtime Boaz said to her,
‘Come over here.
Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
It was the beverage
that those harvest workers all shared.
The New International Version puts John 19:28-29 this way:
Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that 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 the hyssop plant,
and lifted it to Jesus' lips.
Mark 15:36 says,
“One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar,
put it on a stick,
and offered it to Jesus to drink.”
Jesus was thirsty.
We, today, find it difficult to understand
the thirst he experienced on the cross.
We have our bottled water with us,
wherever we go.
Or we have with us our cup of coffee
from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks or Cumberland Farms—
hot coffee in the winter,
and iced coffee in the warmer weather.
We seldom thirst for more than a moment,
before some sweet beverage wets our lips
and runs down our throats.
Most of us have never experienced
the sort of throat-parching thirst
Jesus experienced upon the cross.
But Psalm 22 describes prophetically,[ OPEN ]
our Lord’s experience on the cross.
It talks about his hands and feet being pierced,
and about those who crucified him
dividing his garments among them
and casting lots for his clothing.
The Psalm begins prophetically with the words,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—
which Jesus would speak on the cross
centuries after that Psalm was written.
And then Psalm 22 says in Verse 15,
“My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.”
Jesus had already spent the night in custody,
on trial before the Jewish high priests after his arrest,
then in some lockup until daybreak,
then another mock trial before the Jewish high court,
then questioning by Pontius Pilate,
ridiculed by Herod,
abused by the Roman guards,
and then beaten bloody with a scourge—
all before being nailed to the cross.
It’s hard to imagine that they treated him
to much or any food and drink
during that ordeal.
He must have been terribly thirsty already
when they brought him to Calvary.
There, according to Mark 15:23,
the soldiers offered him “wine mixed with myrrh.”
But Mark says he “did not take it.”
Matthew 27:34 says,
“They offered him wine to drink,
mixed with gall;
but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.”
The soldiers who performed crucifixions
knew it was
one of the most painful forms of execution known to man.
They routinely gave the condemned prisoner
a narcotic drink like that to dull their senses
and ease their pain.
It was an act of mercy
from soldiers who probably identified
more with the prisoners
than with the judges
who handed down such cruel sentences.
But our Lord wanted to keep his senses
through the whole ordeal.
He didn’t want to go to the cross drunk or intoxicated.
Jesus willingly took upon himself
and the suffering of the cross.
He was fully God and fully man.
As God he had long ago
put into the Scriptures of the Old Testament
that prophecy we read from Psalm 22
about his suffering on the cross.
And as man he fully underwent that suffering.
As God, he had also inspired Psalm 69:21
“They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”
And as man he faithfully fulfilled the prophecy,
suffering the pains
and the thirst
in every detail.
In his humanity, he experienced our suffering,
and he took our suffering upon himself
on the cross.
Isaiah 53:5 says, [ OPEN ]
“he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
He faithfully fulfilled prophecy,
because of the importance he attached to the Word,
and because he knew he was dying for us—
dying in our place—
to give us new life in him.
The Son of God took on flesh and resided among us
not to satisfy his fleshly needs,
but rather to accomplish a divine purpose.
In John, Chapter 4, beginning at Verse 31, [ OPEN ]
we read about an earlier occasion when,
31 . . . his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."
32 But he said to them,
"I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
33 Then his disciples said to each other,
"Could someone have brought him food?"
34 "My food," said Jesus,
"is to do the will of him who sent me
and to finish his work.
And Jesus finished that work at the cross.
Immediately before that conversation with his disciples,
Jesus had asked for a drink of water
from a Samaritan woman at a well.
And then he told her at John 4:10,
that he could give her “living water.”
And he went on to tell her,
beginning at John Chapter 4, Verse 13,
about the water she drew from the well,
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give him
will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give him
will become in him a spring of water
welling up to eternal life."
Our Lord Jesus endured
that terrible thirst on the cross,
so that he could give that “living water” to us today.
Isaiah 41:17 says,[ OPEN ]
“The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them.”
And, again, the major fulfillment of that promise
relates, not to ordinary H2O,
ordinary drinking water,
but to that “living water” that Jesus promised
to the Samaritan woman at the well.
It relates to the thirst
that Christ talked about in his Sermon on the Mount
in the Beatitudes,
when he said at Matthew 5:6,
“Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
That “thirst for righteousness” is filled
when we turn to Christ as our Lord and Savior.
He himself satisfies our hunger
and our “thirst for righteousness.”
At John Chapter 6, beginning with Verse 36, we read, [ OPEN ]
Then Jesus declared,
"I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never go hungry,
and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
And continuing in Verse 53,
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood,
you have no life in you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me, and I in him.
The Spirit gives life;
the flesh counts for nothing.
The words I have spoken to you
are spirit and they are life.
We feed on Christ spiritually
when we turn to him as our Savior and Lord.
And he gives us life
through his body and blood—
the body that hung on the cross of Calvary,
and his blood that was poured out for us.
Jesus suffered terrible thirst on the cross,
but he gladly underwent that suffering,
to set us free from enslavement to sin and death,
and to satisfy our thirst for righteousness,
and to give us everlasting life.
That “living water” that Jesus offers us
is not just a cupful.
It’s not just a little water in a sponge
on a stalk of hyssop
like the sour wine that they held up
to Jesus’ lips on the cross.
It’s a whole river of water,
flowing out from the throne of God
to refresh us.
Revelation 22:1 describes a[ OPEN ]
“river of the water of life,
as clear as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
And God invites you
to drink of that water.
Jesus invites you.
At John Chapter 7, beginning in Verse 37, Jesus said, [ OPEN ]
"If anyone is thirsty,
let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
By this he meant the Spirit,
whom those who believed in him
were later to receive.
Up to that time the Spirit had not been given,
since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Jesus had to suffer thirst
and many other pains
and die on that cross,
so that he could be glorified
and could pour out his Holy Spirit
upon all who believe.
The invitation to receive him
is open to all of us.
Revelation Chapter 22, Verse 17 says,
“The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"
And let him who hears say, "Come!"
Whoever is thirsty,
let him come; and whoever wishes,
let him take the free gift
of the water of life.”
We can freely receive
that water of life today
because Christ thirsted on the cross.