Friday, March 29, 2019
The Vision (3.29.19): I Thirst
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 19:28-29.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst (John 19:28).
As a man, on the cross, Christ thirsted. His thirst, no doubt, physically speaking, came from his experience of dehydration, not only through perspiration and lack of food and drink through that long night of trial, but also the copious loss of blood that had come through his scourging and crucifixion.
With respect to his divine nature, there was no thirst. God is without body, parts, and passions. God is characterized by aseity. He is satisfied in and of himself. God has no need of anything and lacks nothing. God does not thirst.
That did not change when God became man in Christ. With respect to Christ’s human nature, however, he did thirst.
John tells us that Christ cried out, “I thirst.” This thirst demonstrated his suffering on the cross and showed his true humanity.
J. C. Ryle observed:
“The expression ‘I thirst’ was chiefly used, I believe, in order to afford a public testimony of the reality and intensity of his bodily sufferings, and to prevent anyone supposing, because of his marvelous calmness and patience, that he was miraculously free from suffering. On the contrary, he would have all around him know that he felt what all severely wounded persons, and especially all crucified persons felt, --a burning and consuming thirst. So that when we read that ‘he suffered for our sins,’ we are to understand that he really and truly suffered.”
A fourth century Christian named Ephrem the Syrian wrote a hymn on the nativity of Christ in which he said: “He that gave food to all went in, and knew hunger. He who gave drink to all went in, and knew thirst” (as cited in Ratzinger, Church Fathers, 151).
Christ knew thirst for us, so that our spiritual thirst could be satisfied (cf. Heb 4:15).
A commentator (Quisnell), cited by Ryle observed, “The tongue of Jesus Christ underwent its own particular torment, in order to atone for the ill-use which men make of their tongues by blasphemy, evil-speaking, vanity, lying, gluttony, and drunkenness.”
In his comments on this verse, Matthew Henry compared it to Christ’s account of the thirst of the rich man in Hades in Luke 16. There, he notes, the torments of hell were represented by thirst. Henry adds: “To that everlasting thirst we had all been condemned, if Christ had not suffered on the cross, and said, ‘I thirst.’”
Christ indeed thirsted that we might be satisfied in him.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle