The Words of Suffering

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

John 19:28 ESV 

Textual Introduction: I thirst, one word in Greek only, yet expresses unfathomable truths, expressed in physical terms but have spiritual significance.

Message: The Fountain of life experienced thirst that the thirsty ones might drink from Him. 

What are the two main things demonstrated when the LORD Jesus, the fountain of life, uttered this cry of thirst?

  1. Fulfillment of Scriptures as He obeyed His Father
  2. Perfect humanity as He intensely suffered

A Demonstration of the Fulfillment of Scriptures as He Obeyed His Father

Note: Play of words: The passage can be translated this way, “…knowing that all was now FULFILLED, said (to FULFILL the Scripture) …and now there remained nothing more than the offering Him the drink of vinegar and gall, and in order to this He cried, “I thirst”

In the midst of His suffering, the Son is fully conscious (knowing, seeing – Greek: εἰδὼς) of the purpose of His coming, he lived perfectly according to the requirements of the law, uttered this word to fulfill the Scripture.

Reference to Psalm 69 Messianic Psalms which describes so graphically His passion. Jesus has to say this in order to fulfill the last prophecy concerning him. The predictions of the previous verses in Psalm 69 had already been fulfilled. He had sunk in the “deep mire” (vs. 2); He had been “hated without a cause and attacked with lies” (vs. 4); He had “borne reproach and shame” (vs. 7); He had “become a stranger unto his brothers” (vs. 8); He had become “a proverb” to His revilers, and “the song of the drunkards” (vv. 11-12); He had “cried unto God” in His despair (vv. 16-20)

Another Reference to Psalm 22:15 – The meaning here is, that his mouth was dry, and he could not speak. His tongue adhered to the roof of his mouth so that he could not use it – another description of the effects of intense thirst. [Barnes]

In the Scriptures, Jesus fulfilled at least 300 prophecies during His ministry on earth. He did not have any unfulfilled prophecies. Christ’s action is not only a fulfillment of the Scriptures but even the very words that came out of His mouth. It is uttered in perfect timing and perfect obedience to fulfill what is written.

It only proves that not a dot or tittle of prophecies will remain unfulfilled. Matthew 5:18 – For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 

[A.W. Pink] He shows Himself in active obedience to the will of God, which He came to accomplish. He simply says, “I thirst”; the vinegar is tendered, and the prophecy is fulfilled. What perfect absorption in His Father’s will!... Are we so resigned to Him? Have we sought grace to say, “Not my will, but thine, be done?” Can we exclaim “even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight?”

Point: As the God-man, He had a task to fulfill. He became a man that he may fulfill what is written. Even till the point of death, Jesus obeyed His Father (Phil 2:8)

Transition to the 2nd point: This word was not only uttered to fulfill the Scriptures but to demonstrate His intense suffering (and personal experience) as a human under the Father’s wrath.

A Demonstration of His Perfect Humanity as He Intensely Suffered

Note: [Thayer’s dictionary] …absolutely, to suffer thirst; suffer from thirst: properly, Matt. 25:35,37, 42,44; John 4:15; 19:28; Rom. 12:20; 1 Cor. 4:11; figuratively, those are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of.

Contrast to early heresy: Docetism “Greek word dokeo, which means “to seem”Gnostic philosophers taught that all matter is evil. it was inconceivable that God’s Son truly suffered and died in a human body. Jesus did not only appear to be a man. Jesus really became a man (John 1:1, 14)

[Charles Spurgeon, Majesty in Misery] Jesus was proved to be really man, because he suffered the pains which belong to manhood. Angels cannot suffer thirst. A phantom, as some have called him, could not suffer in this fashion: but Jesus really suffered, not only the more refined pains of delicate and sensitive minds, but the rougher and commoner pangs of flesh and blood.”

“I thirst.” This is not an ordinary thirst that we experience daily. It is beyond normal. This word is uttered (though not mentioned) according to Matthew right after the 4th Word “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me (Matthew 27:48 compared with John 19:29).

The Lord Jesus delighted in the Father’s will even when it involved the suffering of thirst.

In light of the connection in the 4th gospel between thirst and the living, the source of the living water experienced extreme thirst! In John 7:39 we read of the rivers of living water which was said of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ statement amounts to His admission of being forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1)

Point: Jesus Christ, suffered thirst, deprived of the sense of the Father’s affection and the Spirit’s presence, and subjected Himself to the Father’s will so that the thirsty ones may drink from His fountain. He has to suffer as a man, that His people, brothers, may not suffer the wrath of the Father. The Fountain of life experienced thirst that the thirsty ones might drink from Him.

We sing, “I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Behold I freely give The living water, thirsty one, Stoop down, and drink, and live.’ I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.”

[John Flavel] “If I, (said one) should live a thousand years, and every day die a thousand times the same death for Christ that He once died for me, yet all this would be nothing to the sorrows Christ endured in his death.”


  • Let us not be weary to suffer in order to obey the will of the Father. Jesus suffered in order to obey the Father’s will. It is easy to obey when everything is convenient. But what if your situation is hard? Will you still obey the LORD?
  • Let’s thank God, though we are saddened because the Messiah suffered, it is the only way for us to be reconciled with the Father. There’s no other way for our sins to be washed away, for us to be freed from sin, be right with God, and have peace with God,
[Pink] The Son of God was denied a draught of cold water to relieve His suffering—how different with us! God has given us a variety of refreshments to relieve us, yet how often are we unthankful! 

Even the very gospel that we heard today comes from the living water flowing from the heart of our Savior. Come to the fountain of the living water!

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 

Isaiah 55:1

…If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 

Joh 7:37 

To God be the glory!

This message was preached during our Seven Last Words service (April 15, 2022)

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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