When I think about the sequence of events that contributed to the brutal sacrifice of our Savior, there’s almost nothing He went through that I can relate to at all. I’ve never been on trial and have never had people shouting for me to be killed. I’ve never been severely beaten with my flesh being torn open. I’ve never had thorns shoved into my scalp. I’ve never been forced to carry a massive wood beam after enduring the aforementioned beating. I’ve never had nails driven into my hands and feet. I’ve never been put on display to die in front of an audience. I’m guessing you haven’t experienced most of these things, if any of them, either.
That being said, there’s one thing I believe I can at least partially relate to with Jesus: I’ve been pretty thirsty. Maybe we don’t consider it being all that important to note, but with all the physical torment and exhaustion our Lord endured, He still had the vital desire for His thirst to be quenched. It’s perhaps in this most horrific scene and with His simple statement of, “I thirst” (John 19:28) that we’re reminded of the humanity of the Savior more than ever.
While one of Jesus’ final statementsprior to His death dealt with a physicalthirst, it’s at least ironic that He makes a reference to spiritualthirst in some of His firstrecorded statements of His ministry. As Jesus opens His profound Sermon on the Mount with the beatitudes, He states in Matthew 5:6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” What’s the purpose of Jesus using words such as “hunger” and “thirst”? Is He just trying to be cute or catchy in His delivery or is there something more?
Just as we have the basic physical human necessities of having our hunger and thirst satisfied, I believe it’s apparent that Jesus is alluding to our vital spiritual needs that must be satisfied as well. Let’s consider the stark difference in these different necessities. A newborn baby experiences hunger just as much as an adult, and both want their hunger satisfied. While the baby can’t articulate his/her hunger, when the milk is offered the baby instinctively eats. Conversely from a spiritual standpoint, not everyone is hungry or thirsty for the same things in life –it’s a choice. We must initially be shown our need to hunger and thirst for righteousness before we ever pursue to quench it ourselves. That hunger and thirst must come from sound teaching, reading, and understanding of God’s Word (John 6:51; 1 Peter 2:2). It must come from witnessing others who have the same hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:14-16). And finally, it must be understood this hunger and thirst will not be fully satisfied until our Lord calls us to our heavenly home.
The statement, “I thirst” was among the final words uttered in a most desperate physical need by our Savior. Friends, may our first and final thoughts be daily, “I thirst” and “I hunger” as we consider our most desperate spiritual need for righteousness. It will only be satisfied in the Lord.