The most terrible and good day in history

“I am thirsty.” These are words most of us have spoken at some point in our lives. Perhaps after a long run or after being outside on a hot day.

They are also words spoken by Jesus.

Thirst reveals humanity. God, the Living Water, does not thirst. Jesus comes to earth as God in flesh. A fully human being.

That is significant today. The day we remember Jesus’ time on the cross.

Jesus says the words “I am thirsty” while hanging on the cross. The human being Jesus is being crucified.

“Crucifixion was not simply a convenient way of executing prisoners. It was the ultimate indignity, a public statement by Rome that the crucified one was beyond contempt. The excruciating physical pain was magnified by the degradation and humiliation. No other form of death, no matter how prolonged or physically agonizing, could match crucifixion as an absolute destruction of the person.” – ESV Study Bible Notes

As a human, Jesus is feeling everything that his happening to Him in these moments of torture and death. He feels the thirst of a body that has gone without liquid for too many days. He feels the agony of a body nailed to a tree.

But saying “I am thirsty” also reveals Jesus’ divinity. At the same time as being fully present, Jesus is fully transcendent.

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. – John 19:28-29

In the midst of the human agony, Jesus still maintains divine knowledge. He knows that everything that is happening fulfills Scripture. This terrible event is according to God’s plan. Even to the level of detail as thirst being quenched by vinegar (as prophesied in Psalm 69:21.)

Jesus’ death fulfills a divine promise. Jesus, as fully God and fully human, is choosing to die on a cross. It is the only way to save us, His beloved children.

The truth of this is brought to life for me in the way The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the story of the crucifixion.

“They nailed Jesus to the cross.

‘Father, forgive them,’ Jesus gaped. ‘They don’t understand what they’re doing.’

‘You say you’ve come to rescue us!’ people shouted. ‘But you can’t even rescue yourself!’

But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued himself. A legion of angels would have flown to his side- if he’d called.

‘If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!’ they said.

And of course they were right. Jesus could have just climbed down. Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop. Like when he healed that little girl. And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people.

But Jesus stayed.

You see, they didn’t understand. It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus there. It was love.

‘Papa?’ Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. ‘Papa? Where are you? Don’t leave me!’

And for the first time- and the last- when he spoke, nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn’t answer. He turned away from his boy…

The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, ‘It is finished!’

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.

‘Father!’ Jesus cried. ‘I give you my life.’ And with a great sigh, he let himself die.

And so, the terrible day of Jesus’ death is called Good Friday. For today we remember the most amazing display of love that has ever taken place.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16

Jesus died so we could be free. That is good, indeed. Thanks be to God.

This is what Jesus saying, "I am thirsty" reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one: A cup accepted and a love revealed.