THE CLIMB TO CALVARY
Meditations on The Seven Last Words of Christ
The Fifth Words
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, 'I thirst'" (John 19:28).
Of all seven cries from the cross, Jesus’ fifth statement is the shortest. Christ has now turned from the emotional and mental pain of abandonment (Mark 15:34) to the physical pain of His torture. But in doing so, He is accomplishing far more than trying to quench a physical thirst.
We know from John’s words that Jesus held the Scripture in high regard. He was literally dying, yet He remained focused on His responsibility of fulfilling Psalm 69:21: “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”
I find that to be remarkable. Does that speak to you? Do you know the Scriptures well enough to draw on their reserve in even the most trying of times?
But His quoting of Psalm 69 represents something even deeper, I think, and it pertains to His uniqueness and His desire to be in relationship with us.
Christianity is the only major religion in the world whose “boss” suffered and died at the hands of mankind’s wickedness. In all other faiths, followers work to try and attain salvation through good behavior, in essence, working to pay the price in order to obtain the ultimate reward. In other religions, “god” is many layers removed. Yet in Christianity, God took on human form and became man, suffered, and paid our debt - so that we might receive that ultimate reward.
In requesting a drink, I think Jesus is revealing His true humanity to us. His actions show us that He is experiencing very real and practical needs – just like we do every day.
He’s also showing us, I think, that suffering always has its purpose. It may not be entirely revealed to us at the time, but His plan is perfect. Is everything that happens to us by chance or is it lovingly filtered through the gracious hand of God? When we read this particular account from the Gospel of John, we’re reminded the events of Calvary didn't occur by chance. Instead, God the Father has orchestrated every detail of this tragedy to accomplish His grand plan for the world. This is why these words have been recorded. He wants us to watch. He wants us to pay attention.
So let us ponder this fifth statement and see it as a profound expression of Jesus’ humanity and love for His people. And in climbing to Christ’s cross on Calvary, it is my prayer that we might thirst for Him to the degree He thirsts for us.