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The Word of Anguish

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November 23, 2020

John 19:16-30

By Ross Patterson

Introduction
❖ This is Good Friday! It is a good Friday! The goodness of this Friday doesn’t depend on
whether you feel good or think it is “good.” It is “good” because God Almighty made it “good.”
❖ It is so because paradoxically something of gigantic evil proportions happened on this day! The creature, Man, crucified the Creator, Jesus! - Yet all within the divine plan of
redemption for sinners!
❖ This morning, then, we prepare our hearts to meet our Saviour as He suffers for our sins.
❖ We will reflect and meditate on the fifth word of Jesus, spoken in His dying hour, “I thirst!”
❖ As darkness lifted after three hours, as the sun began again to shine, the Saviour declared, “I
thirst!”
❖ This word from the cross tells us something astonishing, that tingles our ears, that shivers our spine – the almighty Creator of heaven and earth has parched lips!
❖ How could this be? - He who created the the waters - He who sends the rain - He who offered “living water” to the woman at the well - “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst; it will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” -
❖ He who stood up on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles & cried out with a loud voice so that all could hear - “he who believes in Me will never be thirsty!”
❖ How could it be that this Jesus who had such powers could now cry out - “I thirst!”?
❖ God does not thirst! The angels do not thirst. There will be no agony of thirst in heaven or the
new earth! Yet here the Saviour cries out that He is experiencing the agony of thirst!
❖ What has happened to Him to bring Him to this? - this is not the Jesus of 24 hours ago! This
should hold our attention this morning!
The Suffering that it Demonstrates
❖ The Bible tells us that Jesus, in order to be our Mediator, became like us in all things, with
the exception of sin. (Heb. 4:15)
❖ As you and I stare solemnly at the Christ on the cross, we are confronted with a Saviour who
was like us – He suffered as a human being; He suffered in soul and in body - He thirsted
because He was one of us - human! But there is more!
❖ His “Eli! Eli! Lama, Sabachthani!” was very soon followed by His “I thirst.” Both occurred
immediately after the three dark hours closely together and both demonstrate the intense spiritual and physical suffering He had endured during those hours - all for us, as our Substitute! They are unmistakably connected to His enduring the wrath of His Father.
❖ Our mouths solemnly confess the words of the hymn:
o
  None of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through.

❖ The only difference is that this word, “I thirst,” has a stronger focus on the physical, bodily suffering of Jesus than the fourth saying of Jesus.
❖ Here He was proclaiming to the world of all times, that He hadn’t come just to “save our souls” but to redeem us fully – body and soul! The penalty that He endured was not only a suffering of soul but also a suffering of body.
❖ The Apostles’ Creed confesses that “He descended into hell.” And hell isn’t just a place where the soul is tormented. No, it is also a torment of body where sinners shall cry out from the depths of perdition without end – “I thirst!” Hell, as Revelation describes it – is “a lake of fire” that shall never be quenched.
❖ Jesus’ deep suffering had already begun in a real intensive way in the Garden of Gethsemane where His “soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” It became so magnified that He began to sweat, not ordinary drops of perspiration but what seemed “drops of blood falling to the ground.”
❖ Following this, He endured the trials under Caiaphas, Annas, Pilate and Herod where He was scourged,... beaten...mocked with a crown of thorns...all of which so physically weakened Him that He was unable to bear His cross to Golgotha and another had to carry it for Him. There they crucified Him with nails driven into His hands and feet, hanging Him like a criminal cursed by God, between heaven and earth in naked suffering....for me!....for you!
❖ And now, at the end of all this, with all His bones out of joint and wracked with intense pain, His mouth parched, throat burning – He cries out, “I thirst!” WHY??
o Was it an appeal for pity?
o Was it a request to alleviate His physical thirst?
o No! It was a demonstration of the unspeakable suffering He had undergone to pay the penalty of sin.
❖ Yes, it does demonstrate the physical human suffering that He experienced in those last 15 hours - tried unjustly in various courts, scourged by soldiers & crucified.
❖ But it shows more than that – the words express the result of His suffering caused by the wrath of God, the torment of our hell!
❖ His thirst was the effect of the agony of His soul in the fierce heat of God’s wrath. This cry tells us of the severity of the spiritual experience through which He had just passed!
❖ As Isaiah 53 says, “He was stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted,.....the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all......it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.”
❖ And when did that happen? Here! At Golgotha!
❖ It had made Jesus cry out, “Eli! Eli! Lama, Sabachthani!” It also made Him cry out, “I
thirst!”
❖ The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus gives us another view of what was happening here:

When Lazarus died, he was carried to heaven into Abraham’s bosom.
When the rich man died he opened his eyes in hell and begged Abraham to send Lazarus “that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
In other words that rich man was crying, “I thirst!”
Applied to Jesus, who was enduring our hell/eternal death - it is a picture of what Jesus
suffered for you and me at Calvary!
The feeling of being abandoned by God as One who had become a Sinbearer - who had
even become “sin for us."


❖ To be our Substitute, our Lord Jesus, in body and in soul, descended into our hell for us! At Calvary, our Lord Jesus (the Fountain of living water!) drained Himself dry in the fires of hell; and,.. from those fires... He emerged... with this bitter cry,... “I thirst!”
Fulfilling Scripture
❖ Yes, this was much more than a traveller’s thirst in a desert or even a human thirst – it was a
thirst expressed so that the scripture might be fulfilled!
❖ And how did the scriptures speak of the Messiah? We have already seen from Is. 53! It was
of a deeply suffering Saviour under the heavy hand of God’s wrath so that our sins could be
atoned & God’s justice satisfied.
❖ This is why we worship our Lord Jesus every day, every Sunday and especially on Good
Friday!
❖ Yes, He fulfilled the scriptures concerning Himself with these words, “I thirst!”
❖ And so we solemnly say with the hymnwriter,
❖ But note further that John said, “Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished said, ‘I thirst!’”
❖ It is truly astonishing to observe how self-possessed & controlled the Saviour was. Though He had hung on the cross for six hours after a sleepless night of physical and psychological abuse, His mind was crystal-clear and His memory unimpaired.
❖ As Messiah He was fully aware of the many Messianic prophecies that had been given for the hope of God’s covenant people.
❖ And He was now aware that all of these prophecies had been fulfilled except one – from Ps. 69:3, 21 – “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched....They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”
❖ King David had had a similar experience of abandonment during his days of rejection & was inspired by the Spirit of Messiah to pen words that would describe Messiah’s suffering beyond David’s - How amazingly fulfilled was this prophecy!
❖ Again, we see that Jesus was more than Man; He was God and Man; God incarnate; the Son of God and the Son of Man!
❖ His life was not being taken from Him – His was not a normal crucifixion where a man’s life slowly, inexplicably, uncontrollably was ebbing away! - He was the High Priest offering Himself up as the full and perfect Sacrificial Lamb! He was in the act of giving Himself voluntarily to the Father as our Sin Offering!
❖ And when He had uttered these last words, He was then able to say, “Finished!” and commit Himself into His Father’s loving care.
❖ How was it possible though that One could endure the eternal death of all heaven bound sinners? How could He suffer my hell for all my sins in such a short period of time?
❖ That answer to that question is in the realm of God - to which we are not privy.
❖ But Jesus knew that He had accomplished our salvation; He had suffered my eternal thirst! He
had completed the work that His Father had given to Him from eternity!
❖ That’s why this cry, “I thirst!” was:

“We do not know; we cannot tell
What pains He had to bear...”
But His momentous redemptive deed leads us to say in childlike faith “But we/I believe it was for us/me
He hung and suffered there.”
Not a cry of despair!
Nor the cry of a fainting Jesus who, seemingly is not going to make it!

❖ And that, my Christian brother, my Christian sister, is how He has become the Fountain of Living Water for us; so that, if we drink from that Water, we shall never thirst again.
❖ Today He again invites you and me to drink of Him, the Living Water.
❖ Jesus knows that the human heart has a deep longing, a deep thirst – to be loved, to be accepted, to be honoured, to be whole, to be free from the guilt of sin, with a sure hope to be
free from the pains and traumas of life, to be comforted.
❖ That human need is but a parching cry to know God; to be in a relationship with Him.
❖ We see it in the words of the psalmist: (Ps. 42:1-2) As the deer pants for streams of water, so
my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
❖ You may have sought relief for your soul’s thirst in one of so many addictive practices and human activities that are available in the world today - alcohol, drugs, sex, fame, wealth, crime, gambling, sports, possessions, anger and pleasure – to name a few! (Even gardening and reading!)
❖ But there is no lasting satisfaction for your thirst in any of them, only emptiness and a continuing growing thirst.
❖ The 5th century bishop of Hippo, Augustine, said it best - “Because You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You”
❖ You may be treating the Saviour like a supermarket – only going to Him when you need Him. That is, not honouring Him as the Lord of your whole life and living your whole life with a full recognition of His presence and lordship.
❖ What part of your life still requires the lordship of Jesus? Further sanctification.
❖ Today, in the light of what Jesus has endured for you, is a good time to reflect on your level
of love, devotion & service to the Almighty Saviour.
❖ This should always be your top priority - every Sunday - as you hear this gospel of Jesus preached from this pulpit - not one that is down the list! - one you’ll get to it when you have time!
❖ Today you can renew your love by acknowledging that you are not your own, but that you have been bought with the precious blood of Christ and that you now belong, body and soul, in life and death to your faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ - but DO something about it!
❖ Our Catechism directs us - What Christ has done for me now “makes me wholeheartedly willing & ready from now on to live for Him.”
❖ This morning the Lord Jesus invites you again to satisfy your thirst -
o by believing that what Jesus did on the cross was for you;
o by accepting His suffering as being the equivalent of what you should have suffered o and by standing in awe at the brilliance of God’s love – for you!
❖ And for those of you who have stood at Calvary with tears of repentance in your eyes; who know and believe that He died in your place –
❖ Rejoice and be glad that it was a Good Friday, that your thirst has been replaced with peace and calmness of soul; with the blessed hope of Jesus’ return and eternal life!
❖ Or as the hymnwriter has said, “What language shall I borrow to thank You, dearest Friend For this, Your dying sorrow, Your mercy without end?
Lord, make me Yours forever, a loyal servant true And let me never, never outlive my love for You!”
Nor the cry of a Saviour who is beginning to feel sorry for Himself and begs the crowd to take pity on Him!
No! It is the cry of One who has just experienced the wrath of God for all our sins!
It is the cry of a powerful Saviour who has fulfilled His Father’s will;
It is the cry of One who is at the end of His vicarious suffering.
• Hallelu Jah! Amen!

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