John 19:28
After this, knowing that everything had now been accomplished, and to fulfill the Scripture, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."
Sermons
Fifth WordJ. H. BeibitzJohn 19:28
Suffering, Yet not AsceticD. Young John 19:28
The Fifth Word from the CrossJ.R. Thomson John 19:28
A Word from the CrossAbp. Trench.John 19:28-29
The Fifth Word from the CrossW. Forsyth, M. A.John 19:28-29
The Shortest of the Seven CriesC. H. Spurgeon.John 19:28-29
The Thirst of ChristThirty Thousand Thoughts., Archdeacon WatkinsJohn 19:28-29


This is both the shortest of all the dying utterances of Jesus, and it is the one which is most closely related to himself. It came from the parched lips of the Divine Victim towards the close of his agony, and after the darkness which endured from the sixth to the ninth hour. Most touching in itself, it has its spiritual significance for us.

I. THIS CRY REMINDS US THAT OUR LORD JESUS SHARED OUR HUMAN NATURE AND ITS INFIRMITIES. The need and desire to which expression was thus given had a physical cause and was accompanied by a physical pain. Jesus had thirsted upon his journey when he asked from the Samaritan woman a draught of water from Jacob's well. Jesus seems to have taken no refreshment from the time when he supped with the apostles in the upper room; since then he had endured the agony in the garden, had passed through the repeated examinations before the Jewish council and the Roman governor, and had hung for hours upon the cross. The bodily anguish and exhaustion of crucifixion, aggravated by his unspeakable mental distress, account for the thirst which possessed the dying Sufferer. When the refreshment was offered, Jesus moistened his lips with the posca, or sour wine, offered him in the sponge raised on the stem of hyssop. This seems to have revived him, and strengthened him for the last cries which he uttered in his humiliation.

II. THIS CRY IS AN EVIDENCE OF OUR LORD'S EXTREME HUMILIATION. When we remember that Jesus was the Lord of nature, who could feed multitudes with bread, and could supply a banquet with wine; when we remember that this acknowledgment of thirst was made in the presence of his enemies and persecutors; when we remember from whom Jesus deigned to accept the draught by which his thirst was relieved; - we cannot but be impressed by the depth of humiliation to which he stooped, He was "obedient unto death;" the "things which he suffered" were unexampled. Christ not only condescended to die; he accepted death in a form and with accompanying circumstances which rendered it something more than death. His death was sacrificial, and he shrank from nothing that could contribute to make him "perfect through suffering."

III. THIS CRY INSTRUCTS US AS TO THE PRICE BY WHICH OUR REDEMPTION WAS SECURED. Our Lord's pain of body, his anguish of soul, the ignominious circumstances attending his decease, were all foreseen and accepted. This very cry was a fulfillment of an ancient prophecy; and the language of the evangelist forbids us to regard this as a mere coincidence. "By his stripes we are healed;" and we may look upon his voluntary endurance of thirst as a means of satisfying the deep thirst of our immortal spirit. At all events, in his anguish he paid the price by which his people are redeemed.

IV. THIS CRY SUGGESTS TO US A METHOD BY WHICH WE MAY, IN ACCORDANCE WITH CHRIST'S OWN DIRECTIONS, MINISTER UNTO HIM. Jesus has taught us to identify his people with himself. If love to him would find an opportunity for its display, an outlet by which it may flow forth, this is to be found in those ministrations to Christ's "little ones" which he enjoins upon those who recognize his authority and who love to please him. The cup of cold water may be given to the thirsty one in the name of a disciple. Some want may be supplied, some suffering alleviated, some wrong redressed. And they who for Christ's sake thus minister to the thirsting, the needy, the friendless, are justified in deeming themselves, so far, ministers to Christ himself. It is all as though, hearing his dying cry, they raised the refreshing draught to his parched lips. He will account the deed of charity as done unto himself. - T.







After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, saith, 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.

(Abp. Trench.)

We shall look upon these words as —

I. THE ENSIGN OF CHRIST'S TRUE HUMANITY. Angels cannot thirst. A phantom, as some have called him, could not suffer in this fashion. Thirst is a common-place misery, such as may happen to peasants or beggars; it is no royal grief; Jesus is brother to the poorest. Our Lord, however, endured thirst to an extreme degree, for it was the thirst of death, and more the thirst of one whose death was "for every man." Believing this —

1. Let us tenderly feel how very near akin to us our Lord has become. You have been parched with fever as He was, and gasped out, "I thirst." Your path runs hard by that of your Master. Next time your fevered lips thus murmur, you may say, "Those are sacred words, for my Lord spake in that fashion." While we admire His condescension let our thoughts turn with delight to His sure sympathy.

2. Let us cultivate the spirit of resignation, for we may well rejoice to carry a cross which His shoulders have borne before us. If our Master said, "I thirst," do we expect every day to drink of streams from Lebanon? Shall the servant be above his Master? &c.

3. Let us resolve to shun no denials, but rather court them that we may be conformed to His image. May we not be half ashamed of our pleasures when He says, "I thirst?"

II. THE TOKEN OF HIS SUFFERING SUBSTITUTION.

1. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" points to the anguish of His soul; "I thirst" expresses the torture of His body; and they were both needful. The pangs that are due to law are of both kinds, touching both heart and flesh.

2. The present effect of sin is thirst, dissatisfaction. Now Christ standing in the stead of the ungodly suffers thirst as a type of His enduring the result of sin. More solemn still is the reflection that thirst will also be the eternal result of sin. "Father Abraham, send Lazarus," &c.

3. He had no sooner said "I thirst," and sipped the vinegar, than He shouted, "It is finished;" and all was over; and our great Deliverer's thirst was the sign of His having smitten the last foe.

III. A TYPE OF MAN'S TREATMENT OF HIS LORD.

1. It was a confirmation of the Scripture testimony with regard to man's natural enmity to God. According to modern thought man is a very fine and noble creature, struggling to become better. But such is not the Scripture estimate. At the first there was no room for Him at the inn, and at the last there was no water for Him to drink; but when He thirsted they gave Him vinegar. Manhood, left to itself, rejects, crucifies, and mocks the Christ of God.

2. Have we not often given Him vinegar to drink? Did we not do so years ago before we knew Him? We gave Him our tears and then grieved Him with our sins. Nor does the grief end here, for our best works, feelings, prayers, have been tart and sour with sin.

IV. THE MYSTICAL EXPRESSION OF THE DESIRE OF HIS HEART.

1. His heart was thirsting to save men. This thirst had been on Him early. "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" "I have a baptism to be baptized with," &c., and when on the cross the work was almost done His thirst could not be assuaged till He could say, "It is finished."

2. He thirsts after the love of His people. Call to mind His complaint in Isaiah 5, "It brought forth wild grapes" — vinegar. According to the sacred canticle of love (Solomon's Song of Solomon 5.), we learn that when He drank in those olden times it was in the garden of His Church that He was refreshed.

3. He thirsts for communion with His people, not because you can do Him good, but because He can do you good. He thirsts to bless you and to receive your grateful love in return.

V. THE PATTERN OF OUR DEATH WITH HIM. Know ye not that ye are crucified together with Christ? Well, then, what means this cry, "I thirst," but this, that we should thirst too —

1. After Christ. Certain philosophers have said that they love the pursuit of truth even better than the knowledge of truth. I differ from them, but, next to the actual enjoyment of my Lord's presence, I love to hunger and to thirst after Him.

2. For the souls of our fellow-men. Thirst to have your children, your workpeople, your class, saved.

3. As for yourselves, thirst after perfection. Hunger and thirst after righteousness, for you shall be filled.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Wrung from Christ by the most agonizing of pains. Teaches us that Christ was no stoic. Psalm 22:15, fulfilled. Not bodily thirst only. The soul sympathized with the body, and through it betrayed its deepest wants. These words —

I. Betray AN IRREPRESSIBLE LONGING FOR HUMAN SYMPATHY. Learn this from Psalm 69:20. The sympathy of Peter rejected because mistimed; that of the daughters of Jerusalem because misdirected. Here, and in Gethsemane, Christ, as a true Man, felt the want of it.

II. Reveal THE DEPTH OF THAT HUMILIATION TO WHICH CHRIST DESCENDED IN ACCOMPLISHING HUMAN REDEMPTION. All the resources of the universe were at His disposal. Had He not miraculously fed the multitude, &c., and proclaimed, "If any man thirst," &c. That the Son of the Highest should stoop to ask aid from His executioners proves the voluntariness and greatness of His humiliation.

III. Form THE CLIMAX TO THE PRECEDING CRY OF DISTRESS. "My God, My God," &c. Not the Father's approval, but the consciousness of it, obscured for a moment. Christ longed to hear the familiar words of approval, "This is My beloved Son." Two dense clouds intervened.

1. Combined hosts of darkness.

2. Accumulated load of human guilt (Psalm 69:1-3).

IV. Express THE SAVIOUR'S YEARNING FOR HUMAN PENITENCE AND LOVE. He looked upon the multitude, but found no sign of relenting. When He sat on the well He said, "Give Me to drink," and meant, "Give Me thy heart" — so here.

(W. Forsyth, M. A.)

Thirty Thousand Thoughts., Archdeacon Watkins.
Considered in its —

I. PHYSICAL ASPECT.

1. Its producing cause — bodily pain and exhaustion.

2. Its significance — that Christ was very Man.

II. SPIRITUAL ASPECT.

1. Its objects. Christ thirsted for —

(1)The love of men.

(2)The salvation of men.

(3)Reunion with His Father.

III. PROPHETIC ASPECT.

1. Its expression and import — "that the Scripture might be fulfilled."

2. Its significance — that Christ was very God.

IV. PRACTICAL ASPECT. It teaches us —

1. To bear suffering with patience and submission.

2. That patience in suffering is quite distinct from stoical endurance.

3. To abstain from fleshly lusts.

4. The blackness of human ingratitude.

5. The unselfishness of Divine love.

6. For what man should thirst.(1) For reconciliation to God through Christ, by quenching the thirst of His dear Son in accepting His offered salvation, and turning to Him with love, sorrow, and repentance.(2) For the communion of Christ's body and blood in the perpetual memorial of His precious death.

(Thirty Thousand Thoughts.)

Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar. — This vessel of the ordinary sour wine drunk by the Roman soldiers was placed near in order to be given to those who were crucified. Thirst was always an accompaniment of death by crucifixion, and that the vessel of wine was prepared for this purpose is probable by the mention of the sponge and the hyssop. This latter detail is peculiar to John. Bochart thinks that the hyssop was marjoram, or some plant like it, and he is borne out by ancient tradition. The stalks from a foot to a foot and a half high would be sufficient to reach to the cross

(Archdeacon Watkins.)

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