Sermon title:  I Thirst”

John 19:28-29

Church of the Nazarene – Good Friday, April 19, 2019





The fifth “word” or expression

that our Lord Jesus spoke

that Friday 2,000 years ago

when he was dying on the cross—

that fifth word was “I thirst.”


It was shortly before he died

that Jesus said, “I thirst.”


He had already been hanging on the cross for hours

when he said, “I thirst”

or, in many modern translations, “I’m thirsty.”


We read it at John 19:28-29 in the King James Version,

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.


The NIV or 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’s Gospel and Matthew’s don’t mention

that Jesus said, “I thirst,”

they do tell us what happened

immediately after he said it:


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.”


And  Matthew 27:48 says,


“One of them ran

and filled a sponge with sour wine,

holding it up to him on a reed stick

so he could drink.”

So, Matthew and Mark confirm the account,

but only John tells us the details.


John says,


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.


Why did Jesus say, “I thirst”?


It wasn’t just casual and off the cuff, so to speak.


His discomfort didn’t force him to say it.


Everything Jesus said was intentional,

and was spoken for our benefit.


Our Lord Jesus didn’t have a lot to say

while nailed to the cross.


Even though he hung there

for several hours before he died,

he spoke only the Seven Words—or 7 final expressions—

we’re hearing about today.


It wasn’t a convenient posture

for Jesus to relate a parable

or deliver a sermon.


With the whole weight of his body

painfully hanging

from cruel nails

through his hands and his feet,

he could barely speak a word.


But he did speak 7 words

as we are hearing today.


The throbbing pain in his hands and feet,

the unrelenting ache

in his arms and shoulders

are unimaginable for us.


His throat was parched,

his lungs were ready to burst

from the immense effort

to draw another breath.


But he did speak 7 times—

and each time, it was to benefit us,

to bless us—all of us

down through the centuries

who would hear of his agony

and who would pay attention to his words.


Those words were significant.


They carried deep meaning.


Jesus wasn’t just crying out in pain.


He wasn’t just expressing his discomfort.


These were not the thoughtless cries of complaint

of a dying man.


They were powerful and important messages

from the Son of God.


They sprang from prophecies of Scripture

that were hundreds or even a thousand years old.


And his words were carefully crafted

to bless all who listened

and to bless people for thousands of years into the future.


Our God who knows the end from the beginning

determined ages ahead of time

exactly what Jesus would say on the cross.


His crucifixion to save fallen mankind

was known to God from the beginning.


Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as


“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”


The Passover lamb

whose blood was smeared on the doorposts

of Jewish homes in Egypt,

so that the Angel of Death

would pass over those homes

during the slaughter of the firstborn—

that lamb prefigured Jesus,

by whose blood we are saved.

Jesus was the real lamb that was slain,

long before the Passover lamb.


He was

“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”


At John 1:29, John the Baptist

introduced Jesus as

“the Lamb of God,

who takes away the sin of the world!”


The lambs that were sacrificed

at the Temple in Jerusalem

for nearly a thousand years—

those lambs pictured Jesus,

by whose blood we are saved.


Jesus was the real lamb that was slain,

long before the Temple was built in Jerusalem.


He was

“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”


His death on the cross was planned ages in advance.


The words he would say on the cross

were all determined ahead of time.


So, Jesus’ words on the cross

tied in with Old Testament prophecies

that underwent New Testament fulfillments.


John tells us,


Later, knowing that all was now completed,

and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,

Jesus said, "I am thirsty."


Our Lord said this

so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.


What Scripture?


The New Testament had not been written yet,

so he was referring to Scripture in the Old Testament.


One of those passages of Scripture is Psalm 22.


Although it was written 1000 years before Christ,

Psalm 22 begins

with words Jesus would speak on the Cross:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”


Psalm 22, Verses 7 and 8

give the words the Jewish religious leaders would speak

while Jesus was on the Cross:


"He trusted in the Lord,

let Him rescue Him;

Let Him deliver Him,

since He delights in Him!"


Verses 14 & 15 describe Jesus’ pain and thirst on the Cross:

His “bones…out of joint”

and his tongue dry with thirst.


Verse 16 tells 1000 years ahead of time how

they would pierce His hands and His feet;


Verse 18 tells how they would

divide Jesus’ garments among them,

and cast lots for his clothing.


And verse 27  tells how nations at the ends of the earth—

far away from Israel,

would turn to Israel’s Messiah.


So, one of the passages of Scripture Jesus was fulfilling

when he said, “I thirst,”

was Psalm 22 , Verse 15, which says,


“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.”


Another Scripture Jesus fulfilled,

when he said, “I thirst,”

and the soldiers in response

brought him “vinegar” or “sour wine”

was Psalm 69:21

which says,

“They put gall in my food

and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”


In the English Standard Version the Psalm says,

“and for my thirst

they gave me sour wine to drink.”


Our Lord was fulfilling Scripture

when he said, “I thirst,”

and when the soldiers at the cross

gave him thatvinegar” or “sour wine” in response.


Here he was suffering intense pain,

and intense thirst—

enough suffering to kill him.


Why was he concerned about fulfilling Scripture?


If we were suffering that intensely—

enough suffering to kill us—

would our thoughts be about fulfilling Scripture?


Well, Jesus went to the cross for us—not for himself.


And his concern was about us—not himself.


He was fulfilling Scripture

in order to bring us to faith

and to strengthen our faith.


The events that took place

on Palm Sunday, and Good Friday and Easter Sunday—

these were world-changing events.


And they were all foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures

of the Old Testament.


This fulfillment of prophecy was critically important

in bringing First Century Jews to Christ.


And those First Century Jews who turned to Christ

--they formed the nucleus

of the first Christian churches

in Jerusalem and the Middle East

and across Europe and North Africa.


Acts Chapter 17 tells us

what the Apostle Paul did

whenever he visited a city or town.


It says, beginning with Verse 2,


“As was his custom,

Paul went into the synagogue,

and on three Sabbaths

he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,


explaining and proving

that the Christ had to suffer

and rise from the dead.


‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you

is the Christ, 

he declared.

When reasoning with the Jews,

Paul would point to all the Scriptures that Jesus fulfilled,

including those he fulfilled

while he was hanging on the cross.


Acts 18:8 likewise tells us that Apollos

spoke to the Jews,

proving from the Scriptures

that Jesus was the Messiah.”


Paul and Apollos could do that,

because Jesus fulfilled

all of the Old Testament Scriptures

that promised a coming Messiah.


And a number of those Hebrew Scriptures

spoke of the sacrificial death the Messiah would die,

including his last words on the cross.


Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy

wasn’t just for the Jews.


It also furnishes evidence

for people today

who need a reason to believe in the Bible.

I myself had been an atheist for a number of years,

and I dismissed the Bible

as a collection of myths and fairytales.


I became an atheist when I was 14 years old.


But, in my 20’s, I read about

the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies

a thousand years later in the New Testament,

and that helped me put faith in the Bible

as the inspired Word of God.


I checked, and sure enough—

all those prophecies are there in the Torah scrolls

and prophets’ writings

that the Jews still read in their synagogues today.


And those ancient Hebrew writings

foretold exactly

the things Jesus said and did,

even while he was dying on the cross.


I was especially impressed with Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53

that include words Jesus later spoke on the cross

and the way that he suffered.


I thought, “Wow!  It was impossible for mere humans

to know those details centuries ahead of time.

The Bible must have been inspired by God.

So, God must exist!”


Jesus endured that horrible death on the cross

and spoke those words

so that the Scripture would be fulfilled”

not just for the First Century Jews,

to bring them to faith,

but also for me,

and for Twentieth Century atheists like me.


He suffered and thirsted on the cross

for all of us

to help us put faith in him,

repent of our sins,

and come to Jesus for salvation.


He faithfully fulfilled the prophecies,

suffering the pains

and the thirstin every detail.

He took our suffering upon himself

on the cross,

for our sake.


Isaiah 53:5 says,

“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.


And he faithfully fulfilled prophecy,

because he knew

that those fulfilled prophecies

would be powerful evidence

for people like us to build our faith on.


The Son of God took on flesh and resided among us

not to satisfy his fleshly needs,

but rather to accomplish a divine purpose.

Earlier, at John 4:10,

Jesus had told a Samaritan woman at a well

that he could give her “living water.”


And he went on to tell her,

at John 4:14,   


" 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.


At John 6:35, he said


“He who comes to me will never go hungry,

and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.


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.


And Jesus was fulfilling Scripture.


It was Scripture

that Jesus himself had put into the mouths of the prophets

centuries earlier.


1 Peter 1:11 tells us, it was


the Spirit of Christ in them”

that “predicted the sufferings of the Messiah.”


He chose to undergo

that painful, thirsty death on the cross,

so that we might gain everlasting life

where we will never thirst, nor suffer pain.