“The Fifth Word: I Thirst”
John 19:16-18, 28-29 March 29, 2009
SI: Easter is three Sundays away.
On the Thursday evening before Easter, April 9, a special worship service.
We’re going to have a big table in the front set for a Jewish Passover.
It will be like what Jesus and the disciples had at the Last Supper.
We’ll have two special guests with us from Jews for Jesus,
two Jewish men Mal Monroe and Igor Barbanel, who are believers.
They are going to take us through the elements of the Jewish Passover
and show us how the point to Jesus Christ.
This will be a learning time and a worship service.
We’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper together and that’s going to be special because
you will see more clearly connection between Lord’s Supper and Passover.
You’ll see why Jews broke bread at a certain part of the Passover—
how Jesus put new meaning in that, as well as the cups of wine.
So make plans to attend. We don’t have Covenant Groups Wed before.
Will have a nursery. Also going to collect an offering for Jews for Jesus.
Change in the time—6:30 instead of 6:00. Same time Covenant Groups start.
Now, the Seven Last Words of Jesus.
This morning we are meditating on his fifth word.
Shortest of all—I thirst.
INTRO: Let me tell you two quick stories, you tell me what they have in common.
First story is from Steven Callahan’s book Adrift.
About the 76 days he was adrift on a raft in the Atlantic after his sailboat sank.
His water ran out and he was so desperate for moisture
that when he was finally able to catch a fish he says:
“I buried my face in the raw, wet flesh to suck up the brownish-red blood.”
And then he devoured the eyeballs.
“The eyes were amazing. My teeth crushed out a large squirt of fluid,
a chewy dewdrop lens, and a papery thin, green-skinned cornea.”
Second story is from Charles Colson’s book Born Again which is about
Colson’s conversion. There was a conversation with friend Tom Phillips,
President of Raytheon. Colson said, Tom, you’ve changed, what happened?
Tom Phillips began to describe his life, how it was all about success.
How through hard work he became president of the company when only 40.
“The success came, all right, but something was missing, I felt a terrible emptiness. Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night and pace the floor of my bedroom or stare out into the darkness for hours at a time.”
Colson interrupted and said, I don’t understand, you had everything.
“That may be true, Chuck, but my life wasn’t complete. I would go to the office each day and do my job, striving all the time to make the company succeed, but there as a big hole in my life. I began to read the Scriptures looking for answers. Something made me realize I needed a personal relationship with God.”
So what do these two stories have in common?
Both stories about thirst—one thirst of body, the other thirst of soul.
One man was driven to suck fish blood and eat fish eyeballs,
Other man was driven to pursue success, and then driven to seek living God.
In the Bible, the thirst of the body is often used as a picture of the thirst of the soul.
There is a thirst for God in the souls of all people.
We want something big that will satisfy us, something that will refresh us.
And the refreshment that our souls need is God himself.
His love, he presence, his smile.
Because of sin, people are estranged from God.
They sense that separation as a thirst, or a void, or a restlessness.
Since we are worshipping creatures, always looking for something
bigger than ourselves to live for and to refresh deepest part.
Sin messes up the search for God.
So people try to quench the thirst of their souls with things besides God.
But they don’t satisfy. They make you more and more thirsty.
And hell itself, hell is described as a place of terrible thirst.
Thirst that is never quenched—because the refreshing presence of God is gone.
And that brings us to the 5th word of Jesus from the cross—“I am thirsty.”
Like all of Jesus’ sufferings, this was not just physical.
His physical thirst pointed to more a more intense spiritual suffering.
On the cross, Jesus was deprived of the refreshing presence of God.
He did that for you—so that your thirst could be quenched forever.
And so what does he want you to do?
He wants you to quit trying to quench your spiritual thirst anywhere else—
and to come to him and through him, to received the refreshing love of God.
Let’s look at this word from the cross more deeply—three headings:
1. Thirst in the Bible
2. Jesus’ thirst
3. Your thirst
MP#1 Thirst In The Bible
In the Bible, physical thirst is a picture of spiritual thirst.
Out of all the places on earth that God could have chosen to carry out His
salvation plan, He chose the Promised Land, land Israel.
Israel is a dry land, surrounded by deserts, and watered by seasonal rains.
There is a dry season when it doesn’t rain at all, streams dry up.
Question is, will rains come?
In Genesis, Abraham’s herdsmen fought over wells in the desert region.
Moses’ leadership threatened when people panicked because no water.
Even today, one of the conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians over water.
Times people almost died of thirst: Hagar and Ishmael, Samson
They cried out to God, and he miraculously provided a spring in desert.
And that particular image—of springs in the desert, streams in the desert was
used by the poets of Israel. Because in some the driest and most barren places
imaginable, deserts that look like the moon—you will find little springs, little
streams tucked away, refreshing gifts of God’s grace.
So over and over in the OT, thirst is a picture of longings of the soul.
And that thirst is only quenched by God.
David, Psalm 42: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
Isaiah: “With joy you will draw water from wells of salvation.”
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on dry ground, I will pour out my Spirit.
“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
Zechariah: “On that day living water will flow out of Jerusalem.”
There is also a negative side to this.
Trying to quench soul-thirst without God always leads to greater thirst
and eventually to death.
Jeremiah: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of
living water and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Amos speaks of a drought that comes on the soul when people forget God.
“In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.”
This image carried over into the NT where Jesus says that he can give living water.
He’s saying—I’m the stream in the desert.
In the desert of your life, the thirst of your soul can be quenched through me.
Through me you can know God and be refreshed.
Most famous place is in John 4, the woman at the well.
It was noon, hot. Jesus was at a well, Samaritan woman drew water, he drank. Then he said to her:
Anyone who drinks the water from that well will get thirsty again.
But anyone who drinks the living water I give him will ever thirst again.
In fact, that living water will become a spring in you bubbling up to eternal life.
Woman said, Wow, tell me about this living water. Show it to me. Give me some.
Jesus said: OK, Go get your husband and we’ll talk about it.
She said: I don’t have a husband.
Jesus said: I know. You’ve had five husbands,
and the man you are living with now is not your husband.
Why did Jesus say that?
Here she was talking about spiritual things, about living water—
and he changed the subject and brought up her broken, messy love life.
Why did he change the subject? Why was he being so harsh?
He didn’t change the subject and he was being incredibly tender.
The reason you want a man to hold you and tell you he loves you,
is because you are really thirsting for God.
The reason your life is so broken is because when you look to anything besides
God for your ultimate love, significance, meaning, hope—will thirst again.
There is a satisfaction that only the love of God can give you.
And I can give you that. I can give it to you so that you drink it down
and once it gets down inside of you it will continue to spring up and quench thirst.
Book of Revelation describes heaven this way:
“Never again will they hunger, never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
He will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
In the Bible, physical thirst is a picture of spiritual thirst.
And it is God alone, through His Son Jesus Christ who quenches that thirst.
He will begin to quench that thirst right now, fully quench it in heaven.
Any thing but God, any lesser god, any idol—no matter how good might be,
will never satisfy, will make you more thirsty.
That brings us to
MP#2 Jesus’ Thirst
Jesus had probably not had anything to drink since the night before.
So he had perhaps gone 20 hours without water.
He had been flogged and crucified.
He had been hanging on the cross from early that morning.
His wounds were draining moisture from his body.
Part of the torture of crucifixion was the terrible thirst.
This particular aspect of Jesus’ suffering was prophesied.
That’s what John meant when he said: “So that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.”
Psalm 22:15 “My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
That clues us in to the fact that this was more than physical thirst.
This was part of Jesus’ spiritual suffering.
He was being deprived of the refreshing presence of God.
If you were here last Sunday when we studied the fourth word:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” think of it this way.
“I thirst” is simply Jesus expressing being forsaken by God in another way.
Jesus was in hell.
Hell is the place where thirst is never quenched
because the refreshing presence of God is gone.
In Jesus’ parable of rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16,
The poor man, Lazarus, dies and goes to heaven.
The rich man dies and goes to hell.
And in hell he says:
“Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger
in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
Why was the rich man so thirsty in hell? Do you remember Abraham’s answer?
“Remember, that in your lifetime you received your good things,
while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.”
Throughout your life you quenched the thirst of your soul on money and luxury.
That was your drink of choice, not God.
You didn’t quench the thirst of our soul on the love of God, comfort of God
like the poor man Lazarus did. Now God’s refreshing presence is gone forever.
And you have the memory of your money to quench your thirst.
In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie there is a description of hell
that is right on target—even Hollywood gets it right sometimes.
There is this pirate ship crew cursed by a chest of gold coins they stole and spent.
Curse is that they can’t die but they become more thirsty in body and soul.
Captain Barbossa, who is the captain of this cursed ship says:
“There be the chest, inside be the gold, we took them all. Spent them and traded them. We frittered them away…on drink and food and pleasurable company. The more we gave them away, the more we came to realize—the drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, and all the pleasurable company in the world could not slake our lust. We are cursed men. Compelled by greed we were, and now we are consumed by it . . . We are not among the living and so we cannot die but neither are we dead. For too long I’ve been parched with thirst and unable to quench it. Too long I’ve been starving to death and haven’t died.”
Do you see why this was so terrible for Jesus Christ?
Because he didn’t quench his thirst on drink and food and pleasurable company.
His food and drink for his whole life was fellowship with his heavenly Father.
Even when he was a twelve year old boy in the Temple.
“Don’t you know I have to be about my Father’s business.”
It was his relationship with God that sustained him and refreshed him
all the weary days of his life. And then he came to the end and the refreshing
presence of God was gone. He suffered the thirst of souls in hell.
Why did Jesus do it? He did it for you.
Old Puritan preacher John Flavel put this way:
That voice, “I thirst,” pierced heaven and reached the Father’s ear; but he did not refresh him
in his agonies, nor abate him any thing of the debt he was now paying, and all this for the love
he had to poor sinners. Had Christ been relieved in his sufferings, and spared, then God could
not have pitied or spared us.
On the cross, Jesus suffered the deprivation of God’s refreshing presence.
But he did it for you. So that your soul-thirst can be fully quenched.
So that you can be saved from the awful thirst of an eternity without God.
And that brings us to your thirst.
MP#3 Your Thirst
I want to ask you some personal questions about your thirst.
Answer them in your heart before God.
1. What are you drinking to quench the thirst of your soul?
There are just two answers:
1. You are either drinking a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
2. Or you are drinking something else.
If you are drinking something besides the living water of Jesus
your thirst will never be satisfied. The Bible calls those broken cisterns.
You dip water out of a broken cistern and think you have plenty left,
and then one day you look inside and it’s completely empty.
There’s a crack in the bottom and all the water has run out.
Some broken cisterns are dysfunctional and run dry more quickly and visibly.
A person who uses drugs or alcohol or pornography to quench his thirst
will discover quickly that the cistern is broken. Will be shame and breakdown.
On the other hand some broken cisterns are very functional and take a long time to
run dry because in an of themselves, they are good things.
But even though they are good things, they aren’t intended
to quench the thirst of your soul and become a substitute for God.
Marriage and family are good things.
They are gifts of God, great helps in life. Can be places of great happiness.
But they can’t quench the thirst of your soul.
I have a wonderful marriage and family.
But my wife isn’t enough. Children aren’t enough. I’m not enough for them.
And if I look to them to make me whole instead of Jesus, never satisfied.
Money is a good thing. But if you look to it for security and self-worth,
will always let you down. Christ alone is your security and worth.
Same could be said of your reputation, success, control, self-worth,
relationships, something as mundane as your looks or possessions.
Drink from them and you are drinking from a broken cistern. Will go dry.
You need Jesus. You need that living water bubbling up in you.
He gives it to anyone who comes to him in faith and says:
Jesus, I want you. I need you. Forgive me and fill me, and he will.
Two questions for all of you who say: Yes, I am trusting Jesus.
1. Are you growing in contentment with the life God has given you?
A Christian whose thirst is quenched by Jesus will become more content
with his life because the biggest thirst in his life has been quenched.
When you are able to say: “This is the life God has given me and I am content.”
That shows you have been drinking deeply of Jesus.
Are you content with the standard of living God has given you?
With the money he has given you? The stuff you have?
Do your spending habits reflect your contentment?
Are you content with your wife (if married)? Content with singleness if not?
Or is your life filled with agitation, restlessness?
If you are a Christian and you aren’t content.
You are not drinking as deeply of Jesus as you should.
You’re sipping water from one of those broken cisterns.
Make use of all of the means he has given for fellowship with him.
The second question for Christians:
2. Are you growing impatient in your struggle with sin?
A Christian whose thirst is quenched by Jesus will become more impatient
and upset about his sin because he knows what it’s like to be close to God.
And sin interrupts that.
Whenever you wander, try to quench your thirst with other things—
and we all wander, we all sin. Whenever you do that, does it grieve you?
Do you kick yourself and say, Why did I do that?
Why did I drink from that broken cistern?
Communion with the Lord is so good, why do I think anything else is better?
Fight with sin. Long for the day when delivered completely.
In new heavens and new earth we will no longer be thirsty.
Because delivered forever from the presence of sin and our communion
with Jesus will be uninterrupted.
If you aren’t impatient with yourself. If you aren’t grieved by your sins.
If you don’t see the sinfulness of sin, how it separates you from Jesus,
then maybe you aren’t thirsty enough for Jesus.
Ask him to make you hunger and thirst for righteousness,
so you want him more than anything else.
The old hymn says:
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.
On a hill outside Jerusalem, 2000 years ago Jesus said, “I thirst.”
He suffered the thirst of hell for you, so that your soul-thirst
could be quenched forever.
Don’t pass by this stream of living water, drink of Jesus by faith,
and you will be refreshed by the presence and love of God.