“I thirst.” Of all the utterances of Jesus from the cross on Good Friday, this one was the most human. It reminded again that, “He had to be made like His brothers in every way,” for atonement to be accomplished.
In short… He had to be really human. That means the Roman whips tore into real flesh and muscle. That means the nails penetrated real flesh. That means the blood that flowed in trickles down His forehead and into His eyes was real.
And that means that His experience, since twelve plus hours had transpired from the arrest in the Garden, to the travesty of six trials, to the beating in Pilate’s courtyard and then the cross… all took their toll on Jesus’ humanity.
His tongue was parched. No liquid had touched it since the night before as He shared a cup with His disciples. He said, “I will not drink this with you again until the Kingdom has fully come.”
The last thing He had to drink was that wine. His throat was not just dry… His body had begun to dehydrate due to perspiration, physical exertion, and blood loss. “I thirst” was really an understatement.
The sensation of being thirsty is usually the last symptom of dehydration of the human body. Now some would say He said this in fulfillment of prophecy. He did. Read Psalm 22. Others would say He said it in preparation for His shout that was next on His lips… to moisten his throat before He shouted it. Maybe.
But some are uncomfortable with the pure humanity of this statement. Others are appalled at the sheer cruelty of a process that would allow a person to die of thirst hanging in front of you.
I think Jesus was thirsty. And He asked for a drink, as He did of the woman at the Samaritan well. He was thirsty. The heat, the loss of bodily fluids… well… this happens in a human body.
And He was human. And He got thirsty, just like you and I sometimes do.
But thank God that this One who created, with His Word, the oceans and rivers and lakes of the world, died dehydrated on a cross…
…so we would never have to thirst again.