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I Thirst
Scripture: John 7: 37-44; John 19: 28-30; Psalm 69:...
Track 5 of in the series
Running time: 44 minutes, 29 seconds.
I have said many times in this class and I will continue to say it that the Bible has some of the neatest irony. All over the scriptures, both Old and New Testament, there are twists and turns that God uses to emphasize the messages he wants us to understand. So much of the Old Testament points to the time we are now studying. The 5th statement from the cross is an Old Testament statement well understood by the Jews. Jesus talked a lot about water and thirsting aligning himself with many of the OT images of the Messiah.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Death On a Friday Afternoon
Fifth Word: “I Thirst”

I have said many times in this class and I will continue to say it that the Bible has some of the neatest irony. All over the scriptures, both Old and New Testament, there are twists and turns that God uses to emphasize the messages he wants us to understand. So much of the Old Testament points to the time we are now studying. The 5th statement from the cross is an Old Testament statement well understood by the Jews. Jesus talked a lot about water and thirsting aligning himself with many of the OT images of the Messiah.

Last week’s lesson was a hard one to comprehend. Many will ask the question as to how God could have abandoned Jesus on the cross. But we learned that what Jesus was saying was word for word what was found in Psalm 22, the famous Messianic Psalm. Much of what Jesus said and did identified him as the Messiah. He said many things that the Jews would have understood as claiming to be the Messiah. They understood but rejected his claims.

Jesus used many backdrops to explain who he really was. Imagery was used all throughout Jesus statements and parables. Today, you and I have a hard time seeing them because the statements were meant for the Jews. They totally knew what he was stating.

What imagery today could a person or a group use to arouse feelings for an agenda that other times and generations wouldn't know what was being said and alluded to?

John 7: 37-44 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

It is these types of images Jesus used to communicate to the Jews that he was the Messiah. From this passage you can see there were those who made the connection. What is very ironic as we get back to the 5th statement from the cross, Jesus, the fountain of living water, now on the cross, thirsts. It is important to read the 5th statement in the correct perspective.

John 19: 28-30 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. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Many whom I’ve heard preach and teach this passage focuses on the giving of the drink to Jesus by unidentified people. But if you look closely at the passage, Jesus said the 5th statement to fulfill scripture. This statement goes to the heart of the whole purpose why Jesus hung on the cross. What is also very important to note, when offered the drink, Jesus took it.

Jesus was thirsty, but what was he thirsty for? Some think it was for actual water. Others think he was thirsty for something else. Considering all the imagery Jesus used from water, what was he thirsty for? Jesus was thirsty for souls. As he hung and died, he died so all would receive the living water, real life in Christ. The giving of the wine to Jesus was the future imagery of the church bringing to Jesus the souls, quenching his thirst.

In Mark and Matthew, they write that the drink was a vinegary wine that Jesus was offered. In John, he thought the wine was more vinegar than wine. What is interesting about this, why would someone mix vinegar with wine? The Roman soldiers carried with them a drink, a mixture of vinegar and wine, more vinegar than wine. Vinegar is a potent thirst quencher. By itself it tastes horrible. But mixed with wine the drink is very effective especially on the battle field and while traveling long distances.

It far from clear if the gesture to give Jesus a drink was intended to be friendly. Remember the crowd was mocking and railing against Jesus. As he cries out to God the 4th statement, the statement that was understood as calling to Elijah, maybe the gesture to give him a drink was a cruel way to keep him alive a little longer to see if Elijah would actually come. Maybe this person was someone who wanted to help and was taken back by what he was seeing. The Gospel writers don’t identify the person and it isn’t important, but whoever this person was, he did more than he knew.

All of this was to fulfill scripture. What scripture? Some suggest it is Psalm 69:21

They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

Maybe the scripture Jesus was fulfilling was from Psalm 22:14-15

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Anyone know what a potsherd is? Fragment of a baked, clay vessel. Job used a potsherd (2:8) to scrape the sores that covered his body.

This imagery suggests that Jesus is now physically broken, his thirst is so great that it is like a dusty death. He is thirsty because he is all poured out; there is nothing left to give. But the imagery here is so far reaching. There is more here than one can actually imagine. All the images of the Old Testament sacrifices and Jesus being hung on the cross merge together here with this on small two word statement.

What the crowd came to arrest Jesus, when Peter pulled out his sword and cut the ear off of one of the men, why do you think Peter did that? Do you remember what Jesus had to say about the act?

John 18:11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

The imagery seems to be opposite what Psalm 22 suggests. Jesus describes what he is going to do by drinking the cup full, in total. It will be empty. But after drinking the cup in full on the cross, Jesus still thirsts. Most scholars see this as a thirst to drink the cup that God gave him to the very final end. What is even stranger about all of this is what was used to lift the sponge to Jesus so he could drink.

The hyssop plant is a small bushy plant quite unsuited to bear the weight of a sponge soaked with wine. There were those who had problems with how John recorded this fact because it was very odd so in the 11th century, some manuscripts were changed to suggest that the sponge was placed on a javelin and offered up to Jesus. This is how some medieval painting picture the scene. But John recorded this event the way he did because he was an eyewitness and the use of the hyssop meant a lot more than just quenching Jesus thirst.

Exodus 12:21-23 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

Using this same imagery, Paul goes on to write about the New Covenant in Hebrews 9 and how it came to be.

Hebrews 9:19-28 (NIV) When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The Old Covenant was sealed with blood sprinkled from a hyssop. In John 19, Jesus is judged at noon, the very hour when the slaughter of the Passover Lambs begins in the temple. Jesus bones were not broken, just as the bones of the Passover lambs are not broken. At the cross, the wine is offered in response to his “I thirst”. It is fitting that the New Covenant was sealed with wine (represents Jesus blood) on a hyssop. On this Friday called good, everything at last is coming together.

So it is the words, “I Thirst” that prompt the offering of the cup – in the form of a sponge on the hyssop of the covenant – that Jesus drinks to the bitter end. Here on the cross the New Covenant is initiated. The shedding of Jesus blood creates for us a new relationship with God.