The Thirsty Savior

8 min readApril 4, 2023


Christ , cross
Jeff segoviaBy: Jeff Segovia
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It's the season of the so-called Holy Week again. This is the week where religious people commemorate the passion of Christ from His entrance to Jerusalem to His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. During this time of the year, church ministers commonly prepare sermons that have the sufferings of Christ as the theme. One popular topic is what is commonly referred to as the 7 Last Words.

Among the last words of our Lord during His suffering is recorded by Apostle John:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”

John 19:28

Two simple words, "I thirst". Because of its simplicity, it's meaning and significance is most often overlook. People also tend to come up with different, even wild, interpretations for it. But in order for us to truly understand why and what Jesus meant when He uttered those words, we will look no further than the Scriptures for it is sufficient in revealing to us the truth of God.

The reason for the utterance of "I thirst"

Why did Jesus have to utter these words? It is true that He was really and painfully drained of physical strength and was suffering with severe dehydration. Just imagine being nailed on a tree, carrying your own weight while experiencing an excruciating pain. So yes, our Lord was really thirsty that's why He said those words. However, there is something deeper than that. John tells us:

After this, Jesus, ...that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”

John 19:28

He said the words so "that the Scripture might be fulfilled". Thus, it is vital for us to find that specific Scripture that Jesus was fulfilling during that time.

Christ fulfilled the Law and is the Fulfillment of the Law

Even from His birth, our Lord was fulfilling the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27). We are taught that Christ is being witnessed or testified by Law and the Prophets (Romans 3:21). Paul tells us in Romans 10:4 that "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness". The word "end" here does not mean that Christ only comes after the Law but rather He is the aim of the Law, that is, the Law points to Him. Our Lord Jesus Himself said:

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.

John 5:46

The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. But not only that, He is the very fulfillment of the Scriptures. He obeyed the Law perfectly and the Scriptures is all about Him. No one can fulfill the Law but Christ alone and no one can be the fulfillment of the Law but Christ alone. Our Lord said,

Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’

Hebrews 10:7

God's will is revealed in the Scriptures and it is the book that is written of Christ and He came into the world to fulfill it, that is, to do His Father's will. Moreover, our Lord testified:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Matthew 5:17

So, everytime we read the Law or the Prophets, may we not look at it as abolished but as fulfilled by Christ and Him as its fulfillment.

It is now established that when Jesus said, "I thirst", it is all about fulfilling the Scripture.

The Fulfilled Scripture

Now what is that Scripture? It is found in one of many messianic texts in all of Scriptures:

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

Psalms 22:15

Here we see why Jesus was thirsty when He was at the cross. His strength was dried up and His tongue clung to His jaws. These are expressions of severe dryness of the mouth and dehydration. But why was His strength dried up? The obvious answer is because He became weak as He received the beatings, the scourgings, the mockings, not to mention the additional pain induced by the crown of thorns and the heavy cross. All of such things are valid reasons that caused His strength to become dry. But there's (again) something deeper here.

What's in the cup?

Jesus' strength was dried up that He became extremely thirsty. But it was not only because of the physical causes. We have to remember why Jesus was at the cross during this time. He was there not for His own sin but for our sins. He was there to suffer in our place as if He was the one who committed our sins. He was there, the Just for the unjust. Let us also not forget that before He was arrested, He said these deep words:

saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Luke 22:42

As part of the will of the Father for which our Lord Jesus came into the world, there's the cup that He must drink. Apparently, the usage of a cup is for drinking. In the case of Christ, what was in the cup? It was not a delicious grape wine. It is the cup containing the full measure of God's wrath against the sins of the elect. That's what He drank! For every sin of God's people committed from Adam's fall until the second coming of Christ, God's demand (for He is just) is death, curse, and alienation from Him. These are all contained in His wrath against the sinners and their sins. The wrath of God is the content of the cup that Jesus drank on that cross.

So how could not His strength dry up if it was God's wrath that He drank? Imagine the weight of it. Imagine the weight or the glory of its Source. Jesus absorbed it all. Fully. Completely. Not a drop was left. He left not a drop for any other to drink. He drank it all. He truly became the "propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25)" as He took upon Himself the wrath of God.

Here's what's even more painful. The wrath that was poured out to Him for Him to drink came from His own Father. The love that the Father has shown here is immeasureable and no human mind can ever comprehend its depth. He loves us enough to turn His back from His beloved Son and to let Him drink His wrath that was due to our sins. There's no greater love than the love which Christ demonstrated here as well. He loves us indeed to the end (John 13:1). He loves us enough that He was willing to come into this world knowing what He would do, knowing what He would suffer for the sake undeserving sinners. What love could be greater than the Father giving up His Son and the Son laying down His life for the redemption of many?

Thirsty Savior, Satisfied sinners

Every bit of what God's justice demands was provided and paid for through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having drank the full measure of God's wrath, He fully satisified God's justice and removed His wrath upon the elect. He became thirsty as he drank God's wrath so that we can be satisfied in God having been reconciled to Him. We are now reconciled to the Father when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit

1 Peter 3:18

Christ suffered once for sins. That means, His sacrifice is only once but for all time, for all sins, and for all the elect. He suffered the wrath of God so we can be with Him forever. Now that we're in Him, Jesus promised us:

And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."

John 6:35

As we believe in what the Lord has done for us, we will certainly be satisfied in Him. Our thirsty souls will be satisfied. It will be like a well-watered garden. All we have to do is to fix our eyes on Him (Hebrews 12:2). Look to Him and be satisfied for as we look to Him, our gracious Father is revealed in Him for the glory of God is revealed in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). Our Savior became thirsty at the cross so that we'll no longer be thirsty in our souls as we look to Him.


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