Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
Back in the first century, whenever there was a crucifixion, you would find a band of women who would offer those being executed a wine vinegar mixture to dull the pain. And Jesus was offered a drink at the outset of the crucifixion and I, for one, would not have blamed him for taking a drink. If I have a cold, I am the first one to reach for the cough syrup. We all want to avoid pain. But Jesus did not want to dull the pain. He wanted to receive the full wrath of God as he bore the sin of humanity in his flesh.
I used to think this verse was portraying the humanity of Jesus. He was both fully God and fully man and here we see his human side. But that doesn’t seem to be the point here. Otherwise, Jesus would have accepted the drink earlier. On a closer reading of the surrounding context, this verse mentions that the reason Jesus said, “I am thirsty,” was so that we would know that the Scripture was being fulfilled at that moment. All was now completed, meaning every single one of the OT prophecies about the coming Messiah, with that final statement about thirst, was completed, fulfilled.
To give you a quick sampling of a few of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, let’s turn to Psalm 22 and 69.
Psalm 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
This is points to the fourth saying of Jesus on the cross when he cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.”
Psalm 22:7 – All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
Mockery and hurling insults occurred throughout the trial and crucifixion from the crowds, to the religious leaders, to the Roman soliders, to the thief being crucified beside him.
Psalm 22:18 – They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
This verse about the casting of lots for Christ’s clothing is discussed in John 19:24 —
“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.
This is the same language used in the reference about Jesus’ thirst — these things happened or Jesus said certain things so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
Regarding the wine vinegar that was offered to Jesus in John 19, this was first prophesied in Psalm 69:21 –
“They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”
Why did Christ squeeze in this final statement about thirst seconds before dying? It was his last ditch effort to tell the Jews, I am the Messiah you have been looking for.
And what is the significance? An entire nation of religious people waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years have largely failed to recognize Jesus for who he is generation after generation through to the present time.
Yet, I, this Gentile Korean American boy from Philly, the fact that I believe in Christ is a remarkable miracle of miracles. When is the last time I marveled that my eyes were opened and I could see recognize and respond to Jesus? Answer: it’s been a while.
I was neither looking for God nor worthy to be saved, yet God had mercy on me. I should tremble with fear and gratitude for the miracle of my salvation.
Furthermore, I can never look at someone and think, well, that person will never come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
God is a God of miracles and I am one living proof of that miraculous power of God.