After six grueling hours of hanging on the cross, feeling every single ounce of physical pain, Jesus utters the words, "I thirst." This statement represents his humanity and his suffering. We traced some of the theme of thirst through the Gospel of John in the sermon Sunday, but today I want to explore thirst in the Gospel of Luke.
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus recounts the story of a rich man who shunned a poor beggar. However, in the next life, it was the beggar, Lazarus, who received reward and the rich man would be tormented in Hades. The rich man was able to see Lazarus enjoying eternal life at the side of Abraham, and a conversation ensued. The rich man is pleading for mercy in his anguish, and his first, most immediate request of Father Abraham is that he might send Lazarus to "dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue (Lk. 16:24)." This is interesting because the torment that the rich man is experiencing seems that it might be remedied, at least in very minor part, by simply a drop of water. And it would also seem that the anguish that Jesus is experiencing upon the cross might be relieved, albeit very minutely, by a simple drop of water. Of course, we understand that water would not take Jesus off the cross and would not alleviate any of his suffering, nor would water alleviate any of the suffering of the rich man in Hell. Water only seems like the right answer to the natural man, which is what Jesus is demonstrating in this fifth statement from the cross. It's natural for the human body to want the basic necessity that it has been deprived of.
Here's the correlation that I want you to notice in these two texts: Both Jesus and the rich man are experieincing a similar anguish, and thus, desire the same relief. Jesus is physically not in Hades, or Hell, and the rich man was physically not upon a cross. Though they are not in the same physical situation, both of them were experiencing the wrath of Almighty God. This is the similarity between them both. Their torment, while certainly physical in both situations, is largely a spiritual torment. God does not and will not tolerate sin. Sin must be judged. The rich man's sin is being judged for eternity in a real place with real, physical and spiritual anguish. Jesus had no sin to be judged, but God made him to be sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus did not bear the penalty for his sin, for he had no sin, but he bore the full penalty of all of the sin of every single person who would trust him to atone for their sin.
This is an incredible, almost unfathomable thought. Lest I read more into this correlation of two texts than the Author of Scripture intended, I leave you with this thought as you go deeper this week: It was my sin and your sin that caused Jesus to suffer upon the cross.
What sin exists in your life that you haven't confessed before him and repented of? Perhaps you think your sin cannot be forgiven. I assure you that as Jesus thirsted the penalty for your sin was dealt with, if you will just trust him.
You can view Sunday's sermon here.
Easter text: John 19:30