The gospel writers are remarkably reticent to speak of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, dramatically portrayed the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus, but in the Gospels we meet the simple, unemotional words: “Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him,” (John 19:1); “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him,” (Luke 23:33).
However, as the prophets of the Old Testament looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, they foretold the sufferings He would endure. David prophetically wrote in Psalm 22: “all my bones are out of joint,” (v. 14); “my tongue clings to my jaws”, (v. 15); “they pierced my hands and my feet,” (v. 16).
Now for the first and only time, the Lord Jesus makes reference to His physical sufferings. After offering pardon to His persecutors, promising a place to the dying thief, and making provision for His mother, He says simply: “I thirst,” (John 19:28). Here we see the humanity of the Lord Jesus. During His earthly life, we know He suffered hunger and thirst on numerous occasions. And now, after being scourged, after hanging in the hot, Mediterranean sun, after having earlier refused the sour vinegar mixed with gall, He is thirsty. How simply stated this is. Not spoken as a complaint. Not spoken in anger. Rather these words are spoken in the knowledge that God’s eternal purposes were being fulfilled, step by step. John records, “Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!’” It was no momentary lapse of weakness that caused Him to speak of His need, but a determination to bring all things to completion.
The One who offered living water to the woman at the well (John 4:10-14) and who promised that faith in Him would result in rivers of living water flowing out of our hearts (John 7:38), did not seek to satisfy His own physical needs but fully drank the cup of suffering His Father had given Him (John 18:11) to satisfy our spiritual need: the righteous forgiveness of our sins through the shedding of His own precious blood (Ephesians 1:7).