John 19:25-30 -- "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 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. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost."
We come again to Calvary -- Calvary, where we see man's worst and God's best; Calvary, the place of the curse and the place of blessing; The place where Jesus was cursed and the place where a man is blessed; Calvary, where the son of God gave up His life for us; Calvary, where we see the awful debts of human sin and the tremendous heights of God's love; Calvary, where every man must come if he expects to be saved; Calvary, where all of our hopes are centered both for this world and the next.
We are speaking on the seven sayings from the cross. While our Lord was on the cross He spoke seven times. Seven in the Bible is the number of perfection. Perfectly did He speak on the things which for time and eternity, God's people and the people of the world needed to know. Those things that He said, six of them were in couplets. The first two had to do with His concern for the souls of men as He said, "Father forgive them for they know not, what they do." Then He turned to the thief who said to Him, "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Jesus said, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." First and foremost is our Lord's concern for us. So His first two sayings were that which showed His concern. Certainly the reason He was on the cross was for us. Remember the verse in Galatians chapter 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Our Lord then spoke about His forsakenness. The third thing that He said from the cross was, "Women behold thy son" and in that instant, He was forsaking His mother. Before He went into that period of darkness of three hours where He would be forsaken by the father, He turned His mother over to His beloved disciple. "He was the one the scriptures say He loved. He took her from that hour unto his own home. The last two things the Lord said on the cross pictures the laborer laying down a finished task to rest in the arms of God. You'll remember He said ,"It is finished." It's done, it's over with. That was the sixth thing our Lord said and the seventh thing was, "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit." So these things are such a blessing to us when we come to meditate on them and realize the importance of them.
HOW MUCH HE SUFFERED
We come now to the fifth saying of the cross where Jesus said, "I thirst." The sun has come out again, now for three hours the sun had been covered and darkness covered the land. I suppose there were folks around the cross that wondered if the sun would ever shine again. Well there had been three hours of sunlight as Jesus for the first three hours took care of that business of crying out for God to stay His hand against those who were crucifying Him and defiling Him, and making fun of Him, and cruelly saying things about Him. He also took care of that business of telling the thief He would take him to glory that very day, and that He would be in paradise with Him and taking care of the matter of His mother being taken care of in His absence. Then darkness suddenly came over the land and for three hours man was not permitted to look upon the sinless Son of God as He hung there dying for you and dying for me. Three hours of darkness and Jesus cried out a pitiful cry, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God had forsaken Him because He had become the representative for sin, though He, the just one, had never sinned. He was taking upon Himself the punishment for the whole world, of every unjust person that had ever lived or ever would live. Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." We are all sinners, we have all grieved God, we are all rebels. A lady said to me once, "I have never sinned," but the Bible says in First John 1:10, "if we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His Word is not in us." We have all sinned, we have all gone our own way and not God's way. That is what sin is, going our way and not God's way. Well, Jesus took that punishment. Think of it once again for a moment. He left the glory world, left the `morphe` of God, the form of God, and emptied Himself of His glory. He came down on this earth and walked among men and sinless was He, all of those 33 1\2 years. He then went to the cross and took our Hell for us. He became a curse for us, and satisfied the just demands of a holy God. Then the sun came out and Jesus cried, "I thirst."
We see in this, something of His suffering. Let us go back to the night before. A little over twenty-four hours before, we see Jesus in a garden about halfway up the hill of the Mount of Olives from the Kidron valley. There in a garden, Jesus is with His disciples. He left His disciples after telling them to watch and pray. And He went up further and began to pray. As He prayed, He was in such agony of prayer that great sweat drops of blood came out of the pours of His skin. As He prayed, the Bible says, Matthew 26:39, AAnd he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
I think what He saw in the cup were the events of the cross. Those sayings He would say, those experiences He would have, and most especially His forsakenness by the Father when the Father would turn His back on Him. That had never happened before and would never happen again. During those three hours the father would turn His back on Him, as He became sin for us and took our Hell for us. He saw that He would cry out saying, "My God, My God, why?" Jesus in that agonizing condition would sweat great drops of blood and say, "Oh, my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done." An angel then ministered unto Him and He went back to His disciples. They were sleeping. Three times that happened.
Then Judas came with that mob and kissed Him. He kissed the door to Heaven and then turned around and went to Hell. The Bible says of Judas that it would have been better for that man had he never been born. He was never saved. If he had been saved that would never have been said of him because a saved person is saved for time and eternity. Judas was never saved, though he gave the appearance of being saved for everybody trusted Judas. They trusted him so much they let him be the treasurer of that band but he was never really converted. So it is, there are folks that belong to a church and have never been converted. Many are good, moral people, better morally and ethically than some that are saved, But they have never really come to Christ, repented of their sins, and trusted Jesus to save their soul. "Ye must be born again," Jesus said that to a very good, moral man, Nicodemus. "We must be born again!"
The mob then came and took Him away. They took Him through six trials. They took Him to Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest, and he condemned Him. Then they took Him to Caiaphas the high priest, and he condemned Him. Then they took Him to the Sandhedrin and they condemned Him. All of these trials were before sun up and were illegal. He was then taken through three civil trials. They took Him to Pilot, then to Herod, and then back to Pilot. In these civil trials He was condemned and convicted. Pilot had Him scourged unmercifully, with a cat of nine tails. I understand almost 70% of every person that was scourged before crucifixion died before they were crucified. It has been said that Jesus was scourged even greater, more severe than most, because Pilot really wanted to turn Him loose and had Him so scourged that people would have mercy on Him and cry out for His release. But the people said, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him, let His blood be on us, and on our children." It had not been long before that, Jesus had looked on that city and wept over them and cried because they wouldn't come home to Him.
Now He hears those people who He loves so dearly, crying out, "Crucify Him, crucify Him, let His blood be on us and on our children." They have received that for which they cried. The Jews were then a people who roamed the world. Only since 1948, have they had a land to call their own. They are a wandering people and their blood has been on them, because of their rejection. We see then Pilot, sending Him off to be crucified. He carries the cross up Golgotha's hill as far as He can. He stumbles under the load and another man has to take up the cross. When they get to Golgotha, they lay Him down on the cross and drive spikes into hands. They lift the cross up and drop it in the hole.
The scripture gives us in Psalm 22, a graphic description of the cross, a thousand years before Jesus died. Psalm 22:17 states, "I may tell all my bones they look and stare upon me." A thousand years before He came, that's what He had in His thoughts of when He would hang on the cross. The crowds went by mocking, reviling, making fun of Him. "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." "Oh, He saved others, Himself He cannot save." In that they were speaking a truism because He could not come down from the cross and save you and me. So Jesus stayed on the cross and when He said to the penitent thief. "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." He was saying, I am going to stay through allof this torment, all of this pain, all of this suffering, all of this sacrifice. I am going to take the bitter pains of Hell so I can have some trophies for the Father. Now we know He has gone through this suffering, He has been a long time where God was not.
In Psalm 42:2, is another statement of His, a thousand years before He came. "My soul thirsteth for God." And so He said, "I thirst." He is separated from God, forsaken of God, but now we see Him crying out for communion with God. "My soul thirsteth for God," He said. Oh my, what a wonderful thing it is when we come to that place in life. I trust everyone here has come to the place where their soul thirsteth for God. Go with me to Psalm 42:1. It is most significant and such a blessing as well, "As the heart panteth after the water brook, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." Remember those of you, who are saved, that you came to a place in life where you knew enough of the word of God to realize there was a void in your life, there was something lacking. You knew that you were not saved and if you were to die you would go to Hell. You would not go to Heaven. And your soul thirsted after God, your heart panted after God, and you came to Christ. You took him as your Savior and then you had sweet communion with that lovely one who died for you on Calvary.
Here He is, thirsting for God, the water of life, had drained Himself dry in the fires of Hell. Do you remember we read a passage in John chapter 4, about the woman coming to Jesus at the well of Samaria. Jesus was at the well there in Samaria and she came wanting water. Jesus said whoever drinks of the water of this well is going to thirst again but, whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The songwriter said, "Jesus gave her water that was not in the well, Jesus gave her water that was not in the well, she went away singing and she came back bringing, others to the water that was not in the well." That is what happens when people get saved, is it not? They go away singing. Remember when Paul preached to that crowd in Athens, He didn't have too much success, but of those philosophers who He preached to on Mars Hill, the Bible says, some got sad, some got mad, and praise the Lord some of them got glad, for they got saved. Jesus gave her water that was not in the well and she went away singing and she came back bringing, others to the water, that was not in the well. But our Savior by saying,"I thirst," is saying that He gave Himself, that He gave His all. No man ever suffered as Jesus suffered. It's been stated that the most painful mode of death ever devised by man was crucifixion. Jesus, in being crucified, manifested the great love that God has for us. My, Hell must be an awful place if Jesus would take such suffering to get our attention, to show us that we should not go there. We need to accept Him as our Savior.
HUMANITY OF CHRIST
Then there is something else that is stated by this saying,"I thirst." We see the humanity of Christ. Jesus is the God man, He is very God, and He is very man. Man cannot be God but Jesus was God and man. Here is the one that created Heaven and Earth, that lived there in the glory world, and said, "All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth." He is the one that ruled over angels. He is the one who, as God, said to the penitent thief, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." As God, Jesus healed the sick. As God, Jesus raised the dead. As God, Jesus calmed the stormy seas. As God, Jesus walked on the water. As God, Jesus was the king. As God, Jesus raised Lazareth from the grave, and as God, He promised life to the wayward thief. But as man, Jesus hungered and thirsted. As man, Jesus became tired. As man, Jesus suffered pain. As man, Jesus felt man's emotions. As man, Jesus was a servant. "He came to seek and to save that which was lost" As a man, Jesus wept at Lazarus grave, As a man, He was a perfect human, He never sinned. As a man, He suffered great agony, of heart and soul and mind and body. He became human, so He could sympathize with us and empathize with us. In Hebrews chapter 4:15, we read these marvelous words, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Have you suffered physical pain? So has Jesus. Have your friends turned away from you and rejected you? That occurred also to the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever we can think of may happen or has happened to us, it has happened to our Lord. He was in all points tempted like as we and so we can come boldly before His throne because He is encouraged us and instructed us to do so. We should recognize that there we will have a sympathizing ear. There is one who empathizes with us and who loves us, with the greatest love possible because as God, He is the lover of our soul, the lover of our very being and He can minister to our needs. We see in this cry, "I thirst," His humanity.
We see also in this cry, "I thirst", a victor's cry. Jesus is saying the victory has been won. Look at the verse in John chapter 19:28, "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." Knowing that all things were know accomplished He had fought the battle, He had seen it won and then He thought of Himself.
Robert Louis Stevenson tell us a story about a ship on the high seas. It is caught in a storm and carried near some treacherous rocks. The passengers and crew were terribly frightened. They were afraid they would be caught upon the rocks and the ship would sink. The passengers were in the restaurant part of the ship. one of the passengers went up to the bridge to see the captain and there he finds him lashed to the bridge. He watches him fighting with that wheel, he sees him striving to work the ship away from those rocks. The pilot sees him and smiles. The fellow turns and goes back to his companions and says, "There is no need for you to worry, I have been up on the bridge, I have seen the captain and he smiled." The battle's won.
Although our Lord was not smiling on the cross, He cries out and says, "I thirst" and it is an affirmation to us that the victory has been won, the battles over. He has won the battle for our souls. It is as if one runs in a race and he is so concerned about picking his left foot up and putting it down and picking his right foot up and putting it down to get to the tape. As soon as he does, then he starts to slow down and he hears the applause of the crowd. He then thinks about himself and he goes over and gets himself a glass of water to drink. But first, he is concerned with getting the race won. Our Lord is concerned with getting the race won and then when it is won, He cries out and says, "I thirst."
HE IDENTIFIES HIMSELF AS THE SAVIOUR
And then we see in this cry also that He identifies Himself as the Savior, notice it says, "That all things are now accomplished that the scripture might be fulfilled." Go with me to Psalm 69:1, a messianic Psalm, a psalm about Jesus. "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away."
Then in verse 7, "Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me."
And verse 19 of the Psalm, "Thou hast known my reproach and my shame, and my dishonor: mine adversaries are all before thee. Reproach hath broken mine heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Now notice in John 19:29, "There was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth." Oh, we see these scriptures fulfilled so marvelously in our Savior saying, "I thirst." It was not water that He wanted most, it was recognition that He was the Savior of men. The wise men came 33 1/2 years before this and said, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" Here He is, hanging on a cross, and the sign over that cross is, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Here He is, hanging there for you and for me.
Someone said the Old Testament gives us such detail into the incarnation and death and burial and resurrection of Christ that you could write the life of Christ from the Old Testament itself. If you look in the Old Testament you'll find that in Isaiah chapter 7:14, 700 years before Jesus came, the writer said, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and thou shalt call His name Emmanuel." That was fulfilled in Jesus.
Isaiah chapter 53 says of Him, 700 years before He came, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
My beloved friend, if that was not talking about Jesus, pray tell me, who was it talking about? There has never been one that has fulfilled these scriptures so perfectly. Marvel of marvels, that we have such a firm foundation and we sing that song and a real joy it is to realize it's truthfulness. "How Firm A Foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word." What a firm foundation we do have. The Old Testament scriptures reveal so many things that were said of Him. He is the Savior and it's important that we realize and recognize that to be so.
HIS LONGING FOR SOULS
We find also, in this statement, "I thirst," His longing for souls. I do not think it just means that physical desire that He had for drink, I do not think it was just the thirsting for God, I think it was also, the thirsting for souls. That is what it was all about, thirsting for the backslider. There are folks who have been saved and they let the cares of the world or a lack of discipline cool their heart, and their mind. They wander away from God, or they lose the zeal they once had, and in so doing, they lose their joy, they lose their influence, they lose their power, they lose their fellowship with the Lord, and they lose opportunity for service. The Lord knowing this, is thirsting for them to come back to Him and walk with Him and serve Him and have sweet fellowship and communion with Him. We are to walk with Him in the light of His word.
He thirsts for lost souls also. At the well of Samaria, Jesus was hungry, just like the disciples were and He sent them away. John chapter four. He knew there was a woman coming that needed Him as her Savior. So Jesus stayed at the well and when she came He revealed Himself to her. Thirsting for her soul, wanting to give that water of life which was Himself and praise the Lord she took it. You know it's interesting when you look at that passage of scripture and study it and meditate upon it that ye do not find where Jesus ever ate on that occasion. His disciples went away and got something to eat but Jesus, He had all that He needed with that precious soul getting saved. He thirsted for that. Today we have an opportunity to satisfy the thirst of our Lord by bringing people to Christ.