“Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (John 19:28)
“I thirst.” This word of suffering is the fifth saying of Jesus on the Cross. Here we see his intensity of his suffering, his submission to his Father’s will and his reverence for the Scriptures. For how constantly the Savior’s mind turned toward the Sacred Oracles! He lived indeed by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. He was the “Blessed Man” that meditated in God’s Law “day and night” (Psalm 1). The written Word was that which formed his thoughts, filled his heart, and regulated his ways. The Scriptures are the transcript of the Father’s will, and that was ever his delight. In the temptation that which was written was his defense. In his teaching the statutes of the Lord were his authority. In his controversies with the scribes and Pharisees, his appeal was ever to the Law and the Testimony. And now, in his death-hour his mind dwelt upon the Word of Truth.
In order to understand the force of this fifth Cross-utterance of the Savior we must note its setting: “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28). The reference is to the sixty-ninth Psalm – a Messianic Psalm which describes so graphically his passion. In it the Spirit of prophecy had declared, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (verse 21). This remained yet unaccomplished. The predictions of the previous verses had already received fulfillment. He had sunk in the “deep mire” (verse 2); he had been “hated without a cause” (verse 3); he had “borne reproach and shame” (verse 7); he had “become a stranger unto his brethern” (verse 8); he had become “a proverb” to his revilers, and “the song of the drunkards” (verses 11, 12); he had “cried unto God” in his distress (verses 17-20); – and now there remained nothing more than the offering him the drink of vinegar and gall, and in order to this he cried “I thirst”.
Jesus knowing that ALL things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” How completely self-possessed the Savior was! He had hung on that Cross for six hours and had passed through unparalleled suffering, yet his mind clear and his memory unimpaired. He had before him with perfect distinctness, the whole truth of God. He reviewed the entire scope of Messianic prediction. He remembers there is one prophetic Scripture un-accomplished. He overlooked nothing. What a pro0f is this that he was divinely superior to all circumstances!
There is a real sense in which Christ still thirsts. He is thirsting for the love and devotion of his own. He is yearning for fellowship with his blood bought people. Here is one of the marvels of grace -a redeemed sinner can offer that which satisfies the heart of Christ! I can understand how we ought to appreciate his love, but how wonderful that he – the all-sufficient One – should appreciate our love. Yet it is. For this he still “thirsts”. Grace enables us to offer that which refreshes him.