“I Thirst”

Pt. 3 of Series: “Words from the Cross—For You”

Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020


John 19:28-29 (NKJV)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.


It is almost over now.  We’ve been following this whole heinous process along.  We have imagined the trials, before the Jewish leaders and the trials before Pilate.  We’ve seen in our mind’s eye the beatings, the scourging, Jesus carrying His own cross to that hill far away where He was crucified.  In our series, we have heard His words from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” and “My God, why have You forsaken me?”  It is almost over now.  Jesus is close to death.  Coming on the heels of His forsakenness, Jesus cries out, “I thirst.”  That is the word from the cross that we will examine today.  We will see what Jesus meant in this word but, as we have been doing throughout this series, we will be looking closely at what this word means for you.  What does “I thirst” mean for you?  But, before we get to that, John’s Gospel interjects a phrase that almost seems out of place.  He speaks about the accomplishing of all things, that the Scripture might be fulilled.  You see, first, John brings to us that 


  1. All is Now Complete


The words John uses are;


After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished…”  John 19:28a 


  1.  What is now accomplished?


What is complete?  Simply put, what is complete is God’s plan for the salvation of the world.  His plan began in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve sinned.  They destroyed God’s perfect creation.  Sin entered the world.  Instead of God abandoning what He created, instead of Him washing His hands of the people He made, God gave a promise, that a Savior would come.


“And I (God) will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he (the Savior that God will send) will crush your (Satan’s) head,  and you (Satan) will strike his (this Savior’s) heel.”  Genesis 3:15


Satan will be a spiritual enemy of the human race.  But, Eve’s Seed, Jesus, will be victorious over him.  In the process, Jesus will be stricken by Satan, stricken in the cross.  God had a plan.  That plan started in the Garden and continued through the promise of spiritual offspring to Abraham and through Moses and David.  His plan was carried out as Israel, subsequent to David’s rule, fell away from their devotion to the one true God, engaging in a renewing cycle of sin and unbelief.  With few exceptions, one king after another led the people of Israel to worship other gods and the nation rotted from within.  They were conquered by the Babylonians and Assyrians and many were sent into exile.  Having returned to Israel, they still did not seek God.  Then, for 400 years, God was silent.  For the 400 years before the time of Christ, God did not speak, no prophet was to be heard.  We might say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, so was God wanting the people of Israel to grow fonder of Him throughout this absence?  Was He trying to move the people to, as Jesus would later say, hunger and thirst for righteousness? Was He trying to move the people of Israel to hunger and thirst for Him?  That was part of God’s plan.


There was a man in Wales who sought to win the affection of a certain lady.  For more than 40 years, the persistent, rather shy man, slipped a weekly love letter under her door.  After writing 2,184 love letters without ever getting a reply, the man finally summoned the courage to knock on her door and asked the lady for herb hand in marriage.  In 1985, when both of them were 74 years old, they were married. 


That is the dilemma God faced.  Time and again, He tried to get His message of love through to these people but they would not have Him.  Finally, when there was no other way, He wrapped His message in the person of Jesus.[1]  This was God’s plan.  Paul would say in Galatians;


“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Galatians 4:4-5


God had a plan.  God’s plan came to fruition in the Person of Jesus Christ.  That plan was accomplished, it was made complete, as Jesus died on the cross.  That plan culminated as Jesus took on the sins of the world, your sins and mine.  Don’t forget who put Jesus on the cross.  Yes, Jesus willingly went.  And, yes, our sins put Him there.  But, also realize that it was the Father’s will the Father’s plan from the beginning.  The Father, in response to the sins of the world, in response to our sins, the Father placed His One and Only Son on that cross.  It was God’s plan that was fulfilled.  What was complete was God’s plan for the salvation of the world.


  1. What does this mean for you?


The title of this series is, “Words from the Cross—for You.” The emphasis is on what all this means for your life.  Let me say it this way.  If God had a plan for 4 millennia, if all of the Old Testament pointed forward to the cross and everything that happened since Jesus’ time points back to the cross, if God had all of history pointing to what Jesus did on the cross, if God’s plan all along was about the cross, then know, that God has a plan for you and His plan for you is also about the cross.  God’s plan for you is all about you knowing and experiencing His amazing, unconditional, unrelenting love there as your Savior died for you.  God’s plan for you is that His love would change everything in your life.  When His love permeates your soul, there are no more conditions to receive His love, no more questions about what you need to do to earn His love, because it is freely given.  There is no more fretting and worrying if you have done enough to warrant His love.  But, His unconditional love changes everything in your life.  It changes your life stance, the modus operandi of your existence.  


And, it changes everything for the next life, too.  You get to experience God’s unconditional love for forever.  That’s what was complete.  From the beginning, God had a plan for the salvation of the world.  God has a plan, for you.  Next, God’s plan was revealed in Scripture.   


  1. The Scripture Has Been Fulfilled


That is what John said;


After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled…” John 19:28b 


  1.  What Scripture?


“The Scripture might be fulfilled,” John says.  Was John referring to some prophecy that the Messiah would suffer extreme thirst in dying on the cross?  Psalm 69:21 speaks of this


“They put gall in my food  and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”  Psalm 69:21   


That Scripture was fulfilled as Jesus cried out, “I thirst.”  But, there is more.  Scholars have counted that in his life and death, Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies. There were more than 100 which dealt just with his death on the cross. Psalm 41:9 says that Jesus would be betrayed by a friend. Psalm 31:11 says he would be forsaken by his disciples. Psalm 35:11 says they will make false accusations against Him. Isaiah gives us a number of prophecies.  Verse 7 says he will be silent before his judges. Verse 9 says that he will be proven guiltless and that He will be buried in a rich man’s grave.  Verse 12 says that he will die with other transgressors and that He will pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:1-4 says there will be a multitude of spectators. Psalm 22:7-8 tell us that he will be taunted and verse 18 tells about the gambling for the Lord’s garments. Psalm 34:20 says that no a bone in his body will be broken. [2]


God had a plan and all of Scripture attests to that plan.  Over 330 prophecies attest to that plan.  Every word of the Scriptures has been fulfilled.  Every word!  Every word will be fulfilled.  Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies.    


  1.  What are the odds? 


What are the odds of all of those 330+ prophecies being fulfilled in one man?  


Professor of mathematics Peter Stoner gave 600 students a math probability problem of calculating… the odds for one person fulfilling eight specific prophecies…. First the students calculated the odds of one person fulfilling all the conditions of one specific prophecy, such as being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Then the students did their best to estimate the odds for all of the eight prophecies combined. The students calculated that the odds against one person fulfilling all eight prophecies are astronomical-one in ten to the 21st power (1021). To illustrate that number, Stoner gave the following example: “First, blanket the entire Earth land mass with silver dollars 120 feet high. Second, specially mark one of those dollars and randomly bury it. Third, ask a person to travel the Earth and select the marked dollar, while blindfolded, from the trillions of other dollars.” [3]


This was the odds for 8 prophecies being fulfilled in one man.  .  Jesus fulfilled over 330!  God had a plan and He revealed that plan in Scripture.  Every word of Scripture has been fulfilled.  Every word!  The Scripture was God’s doing.


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”  2 Timothy 3:16


“For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:21


So, we ask again;


  1.  What does this mean for you?


What it means is that you can trust God’s Word, that you can trust God’s Word completely.  What God’s Word says is absolute truth.  In a world where you are led to believe there is no absolute truth, that truth is what you make it, that you can change what truth is based upon your circumstances, based upon your situation, in a world where non-believers attempt to justify their bad behavior by adjusting what truth is, in a world where liberal theologians and liberal churches want you to agree with them that there is no absolute truth, they insist—absolutely—that there is no absolute truth, we cling to the fact that every word of Scripture has been fulfilled.  And—here is where it becomes really personal—every word of Scripture will be fulfilled for you.  If you are anxious and worried about the Coronavirus or other things, Scripture says to cast all of your concerns on Him because He cares for you.  If you are feeling all alone, the Scripture says that God will never leave you or forsake you.  When you face death, the Scripture says that God has a mansion prepared for you and a room all of your own, that heaven is waiting.  Every word of Scripture is true.  You can bet the eternal ranch on that.  Think about it this way; if God’s Word has been right and true for 4 millennia, it is right and true for you life, too.  John tells us, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”       


  1. I Thirst      


  1.  Thirst for His body


Jesus said, “I thirst.”  So, we have Ipad and Ipod and Iphone, and Ihome and now we have Ithirst.  Sorry, that was a bad joke.  But, it is no joking matter that Jesus’ body sought relief.  People who were crucified died of one of two reasons. There is reason to think that Jesus had not been given anything to drink since the Passover.  And, from then on He had been whipped and scourged and beaten.  Physically, Jesus’ body demanded drink.  When Jesus cried, “I thirst,” it may have been what was needed for His physical body.  However, the physical need for drink may not have been all that Jesus was calling for.  He may have had incredible 


  1.  Thirst after taking on the sins of the world


Jesus had gone through the agony of having the Father’s wrath for sin laid squarely on His shoulders.  God’s wrath for sin could have flared up against sin, against the sin that Jesus had become.  As One who had become sin, Jesus had been forsaken by the Father and possibly this was why He cried out, “I thirst.  


But, Jesus was thirsty.  It is interesting that Matthew did not record this word.  Neither did Mark or Luke.  Only John shares this word from the cross.  John may have been writing against a heresy called Gnosticism which said that Jesus was either God or He was man but He was not both God and man.  John’s gospel was an attempt to refute that.  His gospel was clear that Jesus was both God and man.  What do we hear from John’s gospel?  


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  John 1:1, 14 


This tells us about Jesus’ two natures.  He was truly divine and truly human.  John wants us to remember that this Word is Jesus.  He wants us to remember that this Word was with the Father at the beginning and that it was through this Word that all things were made.  Jesus is divine.  But, John also wants us to remember that Jesus is also human.  Paul would describe Christ this way;


Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:5-8


God is not a far-off God.  He is not One who simply created all things and then walked away.  He became a human being with a human body and physical needs.  He got hungry and thirsty.  He got tired and sleepy.  He had emotional needs, too.  He grieved and wept.  He joined in the joy of a wedding and became righteously angry at the money changers in the temple.  Here’s the bottom line; Jesus knows what it is like to be a human being and, He knows what it is like to be you.  One more time, let me ask the question;


  1.  What does this mean for you?


Max Lucado would write; “(John) wants us to know that (Jesus), too, knew the drone of the humdrum and the weariness that comes with long days.  He wants us to remember that our trailblazer didn’t wear bulletproof vests or rubber gloves or an impenetrable suit of armor.  No, he pioneered our salvation through the world that you and I face.” [4] It means that Jesus knows all about you.  It means He knows what it is like to go through the things you have gone through.  It means He knows what it means to be you.  


“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”  Hebrews 4:15


I like the one way preacher put it;


When we pray and when we seek the throne of grace, we are not praying to someone who is detached and inexperienced in the difficulty of life – the One to whom we pray knows us intimately, He knows our feelings in every way.  He knows what it is like to be faced with temptation and the path it beckons us to take.  He identifies with the discouragement of being let down by people who say they are your friend.  He appreciates what we feel when our children want different things at the same time.  He relates to the times when we don’t know what to pray, or when we pray in anger.  He understands when we find ourselves faced with more to do then could ever be done.  He knows what we feel when the alarm goes off in the morning, and when work is a chore, and when marriage is a burden, and when we just want to get away, and when weariness has overtaken us, and when we have no reason to laugh and when life is just the pits.

I thirst. This is the voice of the Word made flesh. This is the voice of Jesus the carpenter. This is the voice of Jesus – who is like His brothers in every way except for sin. And because of His experience, He can help us through each day. [5]


That’s what, “I thirst” means for you.  It means that Jesus knows you and that because of that, He can help you through each day.


In two short verses, John brings home three important truths for your live.  First, God’s plan is complete.  It is fulfilled and that reminds you that God has a plan for you.  Second, the Scripture has been fulfilled so you can know absolute truth for your life.  Third, when Jesus cried for thirst, it is letting you know that He knows you.  For, that, “I thirst” is God’s word from the cross, for you.


In Jesus’ name.




[1] From the sermon, “Jesus Thirsts” by Allan Quak, found at SermonCentral.com

[2] Adapted from the sermon, “I Thirst” by Tim Smith found at sermoncentral.com

[3] Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks (Chicago: Moody Press, 1958), 97-110.


[4] “No Wonder They Call Him the Savior,” by Max Lucado, pg. 61.

[5] From the sermon, “Jesus Thirsts” by Allan Quak, found at SermonCentral.com