Jesus Gets Thirsty
John 19:28 plus John 4:5-15; Psalm 22:1; Psalm 22:15; Psalm 69:21;Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34;
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. (John 19:28, KJV)
This is not supposed to happen to our Jesus the anointed Messiah. He gets thirsty. The man who IS living water somehow gets thirsty.
John 19:25-30, KJV: Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own [home]. 28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put [it] upon hyssop, and put [it] to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Yet on the cross, in the form of a man, and in fact a man, and having taken upon himself for his Father God the sins of entire humanity, Jesus thirsts:
John 19:28, NASB: After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”
NET: After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!”
Young’s Literal: After this, Jesus knowing that all things now have been finished, that the Writing may be fulfilled, saith, ‘I thirst;’
John’s gospel alone tells us this.
In Matthew and Mark, this statement of humanity is provided by Christ’s cry to God of abandonment:
Mat 27:46, KJV: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Mark 15:34, KJV: And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
This “why have you abandoned me” cry is not included by gospel writer John. And the “I am thirsty” cry is provided only by John.
By the way, Jesus knows the Psalms:
Psalm 22:1, NASB: For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
Psalm 69:21, NASB: They also gave me gall for my food / And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
And, continuing in Psalm 22, the Psalmist sees God laying Christ in a thirst, dust of death:
Psalm 22:15, NASB: My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.
Luke includes neither the “thirsty” nor the Aramaic cries. Here is Luke’s account at the same point on the cross:
Luke 23:32-46, Young’s Literal: And there were also others — two evil-doers — with him, to be put to death; 33 and when they came to the place that is called Skull, there they crucified him and the evil-doers, one on the right hand and one on the left. 34 And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they have not known what they do;’ and parting his garments they cast a lot. 35 And the people were standing, looking on, and the rulers also were sneering with them, saying, ‘Others he saved, let him save himself, if this be the Christ, the choice one of God.’ 36 And mocking him also were the soldiers, coming near and offering vinegar to him, 37 and saying, ‘If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.’ 38 And there was also a superscription written over him, in letters of Greek, and Roman, and Hebrew, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ 39 And one of the evil-doers who were hanged, was speaking evil of him, saying, ‘If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.’ 40 And the other answering, was rebuking him, saying, ‘Dost thou not even fear God, that thou art in the same judgment? 41 and we indeed righteously, for things worthy of what we did we receive back, but this one did nothing out of place;’ 42 and he said to Jesus, ‘Remember me, lord, when thou mayest come in thy reign;’ 43 and Jesus said to him, ‘Verily I say to thee, To-day with me thou shalt be in the paradise.’ 44 And it was, as it were, the sixth hour, and darkness came over all the land till the ninth hour, 45 and the sun was darkened, and the vail of the sanctuary was rent in the midst, 46 and having cried with a loud voice, Jesus said, ‘Father, to Thy hands I commit my spirit;’ and these things having said, he breathed forth the spirit.
Luke reassures us that Christ never loses focus on God, and at all times remains God’s son.
A traditional perspective on the Aramaic “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” passage is that it was at this precise moment Christ received the sinful humanity of human sinful souls into his Godly human body. It was only at this point where Christ became “human enough” to feel that God had abandoned him.
We’ll not weigh-in on this view, but will observe that Christ’s “I am thirsty” comment serves, more or less, the same Christological purpose. A thirsty Christ is a human Christ. A human Christ loses focus on God and focuses instead trying to stop the pain and save his human self.
All four gospel writers include water with double meaning, but John does so more than the other three. John alone provides the “living water” account of the Samaritan woman at the well on this hillside of Mount Gerizim:
John 4:5-15, NIV: So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
“Woman, will you give me a drink?”
This is what makes Jesus’ “I am thirsty” cry near the end of John’s account so ironically meaningful, and sends us in search of a Christological interpretation.
“God, will you give me a drink!”
And yes, Jesus on the cross does indeed know God:
Chapter 4: Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10, KJV)
Jesus on the cross:
Chapter 28: After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. (John 28:19, KJV)
Here on the cross, as he dies, Jesus has given away (for the moment) all his living water. No wonder the poor man is thirsty!
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God’s blessings to you! We pray that Christ gives you a tall, cool glass of water today!
If you want a good exercise, walk through the four gospels in search of water, washing, baptism, and the like.
If you respond to our post, please cite and quote scripture, make reference to good scholarly commentary, and stick to our narrow topic. Thanks!
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We encourage you to read the actual Bible for yourself!