After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst.…
1. Our Lord's seven words from the cross, have in all ages been very dear to the Church. There is nothing strange in this. Had it been but some earthly monarch, great, wise and good, would not his latest words, or words uttered at some notable crisis, be accounted a precious legacy? But what king, what moment like this?
2. That the words should be thus exactly seven, the sacred and mystical number is not without its significance. No evangelist records them all; every evangelist some. St. John alone records the briefest of them all; only one word in the original. It is the only utterance which contains any allusion to Christ's bodily anguish. He has from His cross a word of intercession on behalf of His enemies; a word of grace for an enemy turned into a friend; a word of tender and thoughtful love for His mother; a word of triumph as He contemplates the near consummation of His work; a word of affiance on His Father and God; yes, too, and His soul's agony has claimed one mysterious utterance for itself.
3. And even this word was not wrung out from Him by any overpowering necessity. He would not have spoken it, if He had not known that this was one of the things which were foretold concerning Him. The Scriptures referred to are no doubt Psalm 22. and Psalm 69:4. Physicians assure us that all the worst which we could imagine would be but a feeble and remote approach to His sufferings from thirst. Consider all which during the last few hours He had gone through. There is no suffering comparable to that of an unassuaged thirst, such as everything here was caculated to arouse. Those who have wandered over a fresh battlefield inform us that the one cry of the sufferers there is for water; all other agony being forgotten in this. The cry for water swallows up every other cry.
I. WHAT A LESSON OF COMFORT DOES THIS UTTERANCE CONTAIN! We want a Saviour, at least in our times of trial and suffering, not Himself untouched with the same, who can have a fellow-feeling with those who suffer, in that Ha Himself has suffered first. And such a Saviour we are assured that we have. He was God; yet He did not take refuge in His divinity when the stress of the trial grew sharp and strong. There was no make believe in the matter. As He had known slighter accesses of this human infirmity, when, for instance, at Jacob's well, so now He endured the fiercest access of it. He who avoided not this, we may be sure, avoided none of the weaknesses and woes of our fallen humanity.
II. WHAT A CONSTANTLY RECURRING TEMPTATION BESETS EVERY ONE OF US IN THE NECESSARY REFRESHMENT AND REPARATION OF THE DAILY WASTE OF THE BODY. How easily we come to attach too much importance to what we shall eat and what we shall drink; and, though guilty, it may be, of no excess in the eyes of others, yet to burden and clog the spirit through over-much allowing and indulging the flesh! How easily in this way our table may become a snare to us. It is not for nothing that our warning examples of those who sinned, seduced by temptations of appetite, are scattered through all the Scripture. The first sin of all was a sin of this character. It is for a mess of pottage that Esau sells his birthright. No sins of the children of Israel in the wilderness are so frequent as these. Surely, if we would overcome these, the power to do this must be found, where all other power is to be found, in the Cross of Christ. And we need this help. The whole mechanism of social life is at this day, for the higher classes of society, so finished and elaborate, that they are very little trained or disciplined to meet small annoyances, disappointments, and defeats of appetite. Great danger, therefore, there is that those, who would perhaps have borne some great trial bravely, should be immoderately disturbed by these small ones. But how will the Cross of Christ put to silence these petty discontents.
III. CONSIDER WHO IT WAS WHO SPAKE THOSE WORDS. We have seen in them the evidence that He was Man, but He was also God. Surely when we would stir up these cold hearts of ours to love Him better and to serve Him more, it is well that we should bring this before our mind, that He had been in the form of God from eternity, who had now made Himself so poor for us that He was content to ask and to receive a boon from one of the unworthiest of His creatures. He who exclaimed now, "I thirst," was the same who had made the sea and the dry land, who held the ocean in the hollow of His hand. All streams and fountains, all wells and waterbrooks, and the rivers that run among the hills, were His, who now thirsted as probably no other child of man ever had.
IV. AND WHEREFORE DOES HE THIRST? That our portion may not be with Him who, tormented in that flame, craved in vain a drop of water for His burning tongue; that we may receive of Him that gift of the water of life which shall cause us never to thirst any more; that He may lead us at last to that pure river of the water of life, etc.; that He might see us thirsting after God. When He sees this in us, then He beholds the fruit of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied.
Parallel VersesKJV: After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.