“I Thirst!”

7 Last sayings of Christ Series – 5


  Text:   Matt. 27:33-48; John 19:28-30

    Aim:   To explain the meaning of Christ’s thirst.


Once again we come to the foot of the Cross and view Calvary. Our text gives us the FIFTH message of the “Last Sayings of Christ” on the Cross and the second of the words, which we come from John. It is that moving expression; “I thirst.”

·         Here at Calvary is the climax of Christ’s ministry, the culmination of God’s plan established before the foundation of the world to bring redemption to man.

·         Calvary is the place where Jesus was crucified, where He suffered and died.

·         Golgotha is the place where Jesus was separated from the Father because of sin. This disunion serves as an example to world the consequences of sin and the believer might learn to be separated and disconnected from the World.

·         Calvary’s Mount is the place where Jesus proved His love for mankind so that mankind might obtain the ability to love Him in return.

·         Calvary, that Hill far away where Jesus exchanged His glories for the agonies of the cross so that we might exchange that Old Rugged Cross, the emblem of suffering and shame caused by our sin, for the reward of a Crown of His righteousness.


1.  John 11 – A few weeks before the Passover, Jesus was in Jericho preaching, when word came that His friend Lazarus was dying in Bethany. Jesus does nothing and abides in Jericho for another two days. Word finally comes that Lazarus is dead. Jesus now departs to Bethany finding that Lazarus has been in the grave for four days and that the body has begun to decompose. Jesus goes to the gravesite and as a testimony to His followers of His power He raises Lazarus for the dead. From this time on the chief priests and the Pharisees plot to put Jesus to death.

2.  John 12 – Six days before the Passover, Jesus has a meal at Lazarus home – six days before He was crucified. Here Mary, the sister of Martha took a very expensive box of ointment and anointed the feet of Christ. Normally, anointing was something festive. But in this case the anointing was in anticipation of His death and burial. Christ’s ministry was swiftly drawing to a close. Mary would NOT always have the opportunity to use the oil upon Him. This serves to remind us that spiritual opportunities are passing. We should not delay in doing what we can for the Saviour.

Later, in the chapter, on what is traditionally called “Palm Sunday,” the people took palm tree branches to greet Jesus shouting “Hosanna Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Jn. 12:13), as He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a colt of an ass.

3.  John 13 – Before His last Passover, Jesus washes the disciple’s feet and thereby taught that though salvation was forever, living in the world makes it necessary for daily cleaning. He also foretells His betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denial of Him when He is arrested.

4.  John 14-17 – Jesus met with His disciples in the Upper Room for the Passover and the Last Supper. At which time, He made some precious promises about the future, giving them some spiritual insight to their relationship with Him and the comfort that was to be provided with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He also warned them of persecution and then prayed for them.

5.  John 18 – Jesus crossed the Cedron valley with His disciples and spent the night in the Garden of Gethsemane in prayer. There, early in the morning before dawn He was betrayed, arrested and taken to Annas the father-in-law of the high priest. It was at this time Peter denied the Lord and heard the cockcrow. Annas sent the Lord Jesus to Caiaphas the High priest to be tried in a kangaroo court. Caiaphas then sent Jesus to the Judgement Hall of the Roman government to stand before Pilate. Pilate wished to set Christ free, but the Jews cried, “Not this man, but Barabbas…a robber” (vs. 40).

6.  John 19 – Pilate had the soldiers whip and beat Christ. They striped Him of His garments and mockingly put on Him a purple robe. Unmercifully, they placed a crown of thorns on His head and hailed Him as “King of the Jews.” At one last trial, Pilate sought to release Him, but the chief priests would have none of it and “cried out, away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” A rugged and ruff hewn cross was placed on His back and He was lead through the streets of Jerusalem. Taken outside the city gates He was brought to the place of the skull – Golgotha and crucified. Jesus hung on that cross for three hours from 9am to 12-noon during which During that time He spoke three times.

1.    Calvary’s Cross became a place of PARDON – Concerning Herod the king of Galilee, Pilate was the Roman governor in Judea, the Roman soldiers who drove the nails into His hands and feet carried out the brutal torture, to the Jews who planned it and for all the human race who are responsible for His crucifixion,
He cried, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 24:34).

 2.   Calvary’s Cross became a place of PROMISE – To the penitent thief He promised, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk. 24:43). Such is the promise to all that put their faith in Him.

3.    Calvary’s Cross became a place of PROVISION – Unto His mother He said, “Woman, behold thy son.” Then He said to John, the disciple whom He loved, “Behold thy mother.” (Jn. 19:26-27).

“Now from the sixth hour…there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour” (Matt. 27:45; Lk. 24:44). THREE HOURS of darkness fell from 12 noon until 3 o’clock in the afternoon when Jesus spoke for the 4th time.

4.    Calvary’s Cross was a place of PAIN – Veiled in that darkness, Jesus bore sins of the world — YOUR sins and MINE! In that darkness He the paid “wages of sin” and first experienced what it meant to be separated from the Father – DEATH! In His agony He cried, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?”


A short time later He spoke for the 5th time and for the FIRST and ONLY time, during His crucifixion, He may have implied a requested for something for Himself.

5.    Calvary’s Cross was where Jesus became PARCHED – “I THIRST!”

This pathetic expression suggests a three-fold thirst.

I.     Physically The Lord Jesus Thristed:

A.    Jn. 19:28 – Not until He knew “that all things were now accomplished” did Jesus give head to the pangs of thirst, which was a terrible part of the torture of crucifixion.

1.    Jesus’ strong will kept at bay His bodily cravings, as long as any unfulfilled duty remained. BUT now that Jesus had nothing to do but die and just before He died He was willing to alleviate some pain in His flesh.

2.    It is recorded in Matt. 27:34 that just BEFORE His crucifixion Roman soldiers offered the Lord Jesus “vinegar mingle with gall,” which would have dulled the pain and lessened His suffering making the crucifixion somewhat easier to bear.

a.    Jesus refused this stupefying mixture of soured wine and gall for it was necessary for Him to bear the full load of man’s sin with no impairment of His senses, or alleviation of His pain.

b.    Lk. 23:36 tells us, as HE HUNG IN AGONY, that the same Roman soldiers, after having mocked Him offered Jesus some plain vinegar diluted with water. It is not recorded whether He took this or not. 

3.    BUT now, just before death, He cried, “I thirst!” The Lord Jesus Christ sought momentary relief from the agony of His parched lips, the swollen tongue clinging to the roof of His mouth and the burning of His throat.

B.   One of the proofs of the Bible is fulfilled prophecy.

1.    The wording of Jn. 19:28 indicates that Jesus was fully conscious and aware that He was fulfilling the details of prophecy.

2.    Nevertheless His words are NOT to be taken as meaning that Jesus said, “I thirst” with the mere intention of just fulfilling Scripture.

a.    His utterance was the lament of a real need – NOT a performance to fill a part!

b.    John sees in the Lord Jesus’ Hundreds of years before the crucifixion, David wrote in prophecy in Psa 69:21“They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

3.    Christ in the crucifixion was identifying Himself with all mankind every time we suffer. For we read in Isa. 53:5 – “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.”

4.    1 Pet 3:18 tell us, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

B.   Death by crucifixion is the most cruel, gruesome torture and the most painful form of capital punishment ever created by man. Ghastly and lingering way to die.

1.    Christs suffering had begun hours earlier before the crucifixion. In the Garden he was in such agony, the Bible records he sweat great drops of blood.

a.    Clinical term = “Hematridrosis” as there have been many such cases.

b.    First described by Aristotle.

2.    Later Jesus was “scourged” with a cat of nine tails.

a.    This beating would have caused Him to bleed profusely and would have built up fluid around the lungs.

b.    Such a loss of fluid would have caused Jesus to go into shock and have a great loss in blood pressure.

c.    The two most tattle tale signs of loss of body fluids is weakness and intense thirst. The Lord’s lips would have protruded; His tongue would have swollen and would have dried to the roof of His mouth.

3.    Psychologists report that the pain from the thorns in the head would be so intense that it would cause many people to commit suicide.

4.    The pain from the nails would cause “casaligia,” resulting in lightening bolts shocks running up the arms and legs. Intensity would be so great that morphine would not relieve it.

5.    There would have been a symphony of pain – back & chest, face, head, hands & feet and an intense thirst.

II.    Mentally The Lord Jesus Thristed:

A.    He thirsted for the souls of men.

1.    He thirsted for the fellowship of other believers in He hour of need.

2.    He thirsted that we might NEVER thirst.
He thirsted for the salvation of EVERY person that was ever born.

a.    All of Christ’s bodily sufferings may be summed up in this one utterance, “I thirst,” the only one in which He expressed His distress.

b.    It was from these very same lips that He promised “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37).

c.    Such an offer to spiritually renew and refresh us is infinitely pathetic in itself when we see His helpless position on the cross. When we remember that He as Sinless Perfection and bore the pangs of hell in this suffering because of our sins, He almost becomes appalling to us.

d.    Isaiah 55:1 tells us that the very Fountain of “living water” knew the pang of physical thirst in order that “every one that thirsteth,” might come “to the waters.” The invitation is not only for water – “he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

3.    NOTE that the putting the vinegar-soaked sponge to Christ’s mouth on the end of a hyssop plant stalk seems odd.

a.    The hyssop was used in Lev. 14, according the Law, for the cleansing of a leper.

b.    David prayed Ps. 51:7 – “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

c.    The hyssop was also used in sprinkling of blood for sanctification, purification and the remission of sin under the law.

d.    This detail seems to point to Jesus dying as the true Lamb of God at Passover for hyssop was used in the very first Passover to place the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts and lintel.

4.    The mention and use of a sponge is interesting too. It is very remarkable that in the death of Christ, the circle of life was completed.

a.    The sponge is the lowest from of animal life and Christ is the very highest type of life of ANY kind,

b.    The sponge was lifted to the lips of the King of glory and carried refreshment to Him; you and I, like the sponge, which is the very least of God’s living creatures, may bring refreshment to our Saviour’s lips.

B.   One day, every lost person, everyone who refuses Christ’s offer, will thirst in Hell and remember the thirsts of Christ on the Cross.

III.   Spiritually The Lord Jesus Thristed:

A.    He thirsted for the fellowship and communion with the Father.

Ps. 42:1-2 – “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”

Ps. 63:1 – “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”



·         We can praise our precious Lord and Saviour that as believers we don’t have to suffer in any way shape or form – physically or spiritually for our sins—Jesus did it all!

·         BUT as His disciples we too can have that thirst—a desire to reach men & women for Him.

Ps. 126:6  “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”


Do you have a hunger for righteousness?

·         Ps 119:174  “I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

·         Ps 143:6  “I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.”


While on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ gave a most graphic description of a man who left this life with his thirst unquenched in Luke 16. On earth this man lived a life of luxury, surrounded by every material comfort. His pre-occupation with material things crowed out any thought of the life to come. He made no preparation for it. But the day came when death escorted from this world and all the advantages he had known here. He then discovered his great mistake, for although he had been rich on earth he now found himself a pauper. He who had the choicest vintage on earth found that he could not secure a drop of water to cool his tongue

 “He cried…have mercy on me…send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Lk. 16:24).


I once was in a hotel in America and wanted a drink of water. I found a drinking fountain that had a sign above it with this inscription, “Stoop and drink.” I thought how dumb, how else was I to get a drink. I reached my hand down to turn on the water, but there was no handle. I looked all around for a button to push and I walked around the thing looking down on the floor a pedal – nothing! I felt like this was a joke. As stooped over to see behind it there were some switch or something to turn it on cold, clear water flowed into my face. The fountain was controlled by an electric eye so arranged that when its beam of light was broken, an electronic switch operated that turned on the faucet.

·         Re 21:6 – Jesus said, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

·         Re 22:17 – He and the Spirit say, “Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

·         Jesus pleads that “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).




8 April 7, 2001