"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." (John 19:28)
On the surface, that statement doesn't mean anything to us.
It's exactly what you'd expect from a dying man who's
parched and dehydrated after six hours on a cross. "I'm
thirsty." Sure, that's what he's going to say. But I think
he says much more. I would suggest to you that this was a
claim of completion.
Perhaps you remember that there were two drinks that were
mentioned at the cross. It's helpful to know which is
which. In Matthew 27:34 as Jesus was being put on the
cross, the Bible tells us that he was offered a drink
that's called, "wine mixed with gall." The gall was a
narcotic agent, a numbing agent. Even the cruel Romans had
a touch of mercy in them. Before they would put a man up on
the cross, they gave him something to just blur his mind
and to allow him to withstand the pain. When Jesus was
offered that, he refused. He said, "No."
"Why would he refuse it?" One reason is surely Jesus would
choose no escapes or shortcuts. He was determined to endure
the full brunt and the full wrath of the cross. Jesus
wanted his full mental faculties while he hung there so
that he could summarize his whole life and ministry in
these seven statements made from the cross.
But six hours later another drink is offered. It's
identified to us as wine mixed with vinegar. It was
different. It was a cheap wine, hardly fermented, if
fermented at all; it was wine mixed with vinegar. The
scholars usually say, "One part wine, two parts vinegar."
It had no gall, it had no numbing effect. If anything, it
would stimulate his senses. And Jesus said, "I am thirsty,"
and they gave that to him.
So why did he drink the second drink?" Look at verse 28.
"Later, knowing that all was now completed and so that
Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'"
Folks, there is another evidence that is God hanging on the
cross. You see I'm convinced that only God could know what
Jesus knew at that moment. After six hours of excruciating,
mind-blurring pain, and just moments before he was going to
die, that man hanging on the cross reflected on the
700-plus prophecies about his life to see if they were all
fulfilled. The following are prophecies just about Jesus'
The betrayal by a familiar friend.
The forsaking of the disciples.
The false accusations. (Psalm
The silence before his judges
Being found guiltless (Isaiah
The numbering of him with the
transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
Being crucified. (Psalm 22:16)
The mocking of the spectators.
The taunt of non-deliverance.
The gambling for his very garments.
The prayer for his enemies. (Isaiah
Being forsaken of God. (Psalm
The yielding of his spirit into the
hands of the Father. (Psalm 31:5)
The bones not being broken. (Psalm
The burial in a rich man's tomb.
They gave me vinegar for my thirst
Did you know there were that many prophecies just about the
death? Was this man just a man? As he was thinking through
all of those, one came to his mind not yet fulfilled, one
last prophecy. Psalm 69:20 prophesied that vinegar would be
offered and it would be consumed, and Jesus, knowing that
he would and that he must fulfill all prophecy, said
something to cause that fulfillment. He said, "I am
thirsty." They gave him the vinegar. It was a claim of
completion. But even more important than that, it was a
claim of incarnation.
There could have been two reasons Jesus made this statement
from the cross. One, it was to complete prophecy; and
second, because the man was thirsty. The first reason shows
us that he was God while the second reason shows that he
was man. Together, they validate again the greatest claim
in all history, the claim of incarnation. Incarnation just
means that this man, Jesus, was God come packaged in the
flesh. There are claims to that all the way through the
Bible. John began his gospel with "In the beginning was the
Word" (that was a metaphor for Jesus). "In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God." (John 1:1) And then 14 verses later, he said, "And
the Word became flesh and dwelled right here among us."
Colossians 2:9 says, "For in Christ all the fullness of the
Deity lives in bodily form," Or, 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul says
to Timothy, "He appeared in a body and was vindicated by
the Spirit," and the list goes on and on. I can't stress
this enough. The claim of incarnation is the Continental
Divide of faith, it flows one way or the other. You see the
world loves Jesus. Ninety percent of America even claims to
be Christian, everybody likes Jesus because he was loving
and nice and warm and fuzzy and the world is anxious to
talk about him being a good teacher, a great philosopher
and a kind man. But unless you accept him as God come in
the flesh, then the Bible makes no rhyme or reason. It is
the crucial claim in all humanity. If you believe he is God
come in the flesh, everything else fits. He walked on
water? Sure, the one who made the water can walk on it,
can't he? That he came out of the grave? The one who
altered life, is it any surprise that death couldn't hold
him? The fact that he could say, "Your sins are forgiven,"
hanging on the cross. If he's God on that cross, it's no
surprise that his death would have a saving
The critical decision of our lives is: Was this man really
God? Or, was God really this man? That's it. And the claim,
"I AM thirsty," says, "Yes." Yes, he was. He was God come
in the flesh.
But, I want to suggest to you that's there's a very
practical day-to-day way that the incarnation of Jesus, God
come in the flesh, means everything to us. The God who put
the stars in the sky, who spoke the world into existence
and who gave you life in your mother's womb, that God came,
lived and died on a cross so that he could feel what you
feel, sweat like you sweat, hurt like you hurt and cry like
you cry. The sad reality is that most people acknowledge
Jesus and I'm even talking about Christian folks now, but
they have precious little understanding of how he really
wants to impact their day-to-day living.
Most people see Jesus as a man who came to set up a
religion, Christianity, an institution, the church, a code
of conduct, the Bible and they think that's it. No! Jesus
didn't come to this earth and hang on that cross to
establish religion. He came to re-establish relationships.
You may have heard that before but still not understand.
You believe Jesus came in the flesh, he's been here, done
that, gone back to heaven and what he did was important,
case closed. How do you have relationship with somebody
who's not here? You can't see him, touch him, feel him or
hear him. We're like the little six-year-old girl who had a
bad dream. Her mother went in to her bedroom while she was
crying and trying to give her courage and get her
independence growing, she stroked her and said, "Now honey,
go back to bed, Jesus is here with you." The little girl
looked back and said, "Well good, you stay here with Jesus,
I'm going in there with daddy."
Now we laugh at that, but that's the way most people I know
really operate about Jesus. A lot of folks believe that
Jesus is around somewhere, but we need something flesh and
blood to snuggle up with. We need somebody we can get a
hold of, somebody who can touch us, somebody who can really
understand us. If there is ever a passage that answers the
question: Does Jesus care? Can he touch us? Can we touch
him? Can he really meet my needs today? It's the scripture
we're studying now. Jesus said, "I am thirsty."
One of the most fascinating things in all the Bible is when
Jesus was about to begin his ministry, he went into the
desert without food for 40 days and the Bible has one of
the greatest understatements in all scripture, it says "And
he was hungry." Forty days without food and he was hungry.
Then now in the last few minutes of his life as he's
hanging on the cross, we find him thirsty.
It's intriguing to me that at the bookends of his ministry,
we see Jesus struggling with the most basic human needs:
hunger and thirst. Have you ever wondered why we're told
that? Why over here in Matthew 4 in the desert when Jesus
is going one on one with Satan when they're trying to
figure out who's going to rule the world. We're talking
about the spiritual battle of all eternity. Then we're told
"and he was very hungry." Why over here in the blackest day
that's ever been where Jesus was experiencing the same
blackness as all of our sin was being heaped on him, and
he's looking for the Father and can't find him, crying, "My
God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" We're also told:
And he was thirsty.
Have you ever wondered why we're told those things? It's so
that the words of Hebrews 4:15-16 would ring absolutely
true in our ears: "For we do not have a high priest who is
unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one
who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was
without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with
confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace."
Look at this, "to help us in our time of need."
The beautiful song says, "Does Jesus care when my heart is
pained too deeply for mirth or song? As the burdens press
and the cares distress and the way grows weary and long? Oh
yes, he cares, I know he cares." But better than the song,
Peter said "Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for
you." (1 Peter 5:7)
Jesus is not here today in the flesh to put his arms around
me, to hold on to my hand physically in the dark nights and
the frightening times. I'm glad he's not here in the flesh
now. Because he's done what he needed to do and our sin is
taken away. If he were still here, it would be for the
purpose of needing to abstain and absolve our sin. I'm also
glad he's not here in the flesh because he's back in
heaven's throne room interceding for us before the Father.
I'm glad, because now he's no longer packaged in flesh
confined by time, location and space. He can know and deal
with all of our pain, suffering and needs at the same time.
We don't have to be like a leper or blind Bartimaeus or the
blind man, we don't have to try and find out: Is Jesus in
Nazareth? Is Jesus in Capernaum? Is Jesus in Jerusalem? I
want to see him. He's right there, right there where we can
touch him any time.
I'm glad he's not here physically because he left behind a
"Comforter," the Holy Spirit of God, not just to be with
us, but to live in us when we're raised a new creation from
being baptized into Christ. The Holy Spirit living in us is
making intercession in our prayers. Romans 8:26 says, he's
offering groanings for us that we don't even know how to
offer. He's talking to the Father about our needs that we
don't even know how to ask for. Therefore, when any of us
come to God in prayer, Jesus in heaven can identify with
and meet any need we have. If that doesn't make any sense
to you it's because you've either never met the "man"
Jesus, or because you've never seen prayer as the
opportunity to talk with him face to face. Don't just pray,
live in prayer. That's a claim of care. One author said
that the cradle in Bethlehem proves that God came. The
cross on Calvary proves that God cares.
They lifted the hyssop stalk with the vinegar and wine to
his lips and "When he received the drink, Jesus said, 'It
is finished.' With that he bowed and gave up his spirit."
(John 19:30) Jesus had to have the needs of humanity met
before he could make the claim of divinity. He couldn't
call out the words, "It is finished," until his human
thirst was met, and abated. What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear. Lesson # 1255, March 24, 1996