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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sermon - John 19:28-30 - RLD3 - I Thirst


Sermon - John 19:28-30 - RLD3 - I Thirst from First Congregational Church on Vimeo.
Continuing our Lent series looking at the words of Christ upon the Cross.

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Sermon – John 19:28-30 – RLD – I Thirst
Lay Reading – Psalm 32:1-7

Well, I want you to turn your Bibles with me to John 19:28. This is Red Letter Day #3, and we are looking at some of the sayings of Jesus on the cross. This is a great Scripture again today. Jesus is on the Cross having a really, really bad day. Look at this: 28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 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. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“I am thirsty.” It’s such a simple and short statement. How many times have you said that statement during your life? I can’t tell you how many times people have come to me and said, “I am thirsty.” Our son when he is thirsty has a sign for it – he goes. It’s a common condition of the human body. Your body has to have so much water or liquid in it for it to function properly. If you fail to hydrate your body the way you should it can cause you to pass out, and in severe cases you can die from it.

Story about dehydration – double days at football, stick shift, Eagle project.

And I have to imagine my dehydration was nothing compared to what Jesus was experiencing on the day he was crucified. Here on the cross Jesus’ body was dehydrated. With his loss of blood, his nervous tension and his exposure to the weather it had generated a raging thirst in Him. Besides the pain, the crucifixion was noted for causing dehydration. As they were punishing Him, beating Him, whipping Him, forcing Him to carry His heavy cross it wasn’t like they were worried about whether Christ was hydrated or not. With all his loss of fluids, sweat, blood, tears it is clear Christ was physically depleted. We see at one point Christ even has to have help carrying the burden of His cross because of His condition.

I believe the first reason that we are made aware of Jesus’ statement here is to show us that He really did experience a real and physical humanity. “When John was writing his gospel, round about A.D. 100, a certain tendency had arisen in religious and philosophical thought, called gnosticism. One of its great tenets was that spirit was altogether good and matter all together evil. Certain conclusions followed. One was that God, who was pure spirit, could never take upon himself a body, because that was matter, and matter was evil. They therefore taught that Jesus never had a real body. They said it was a phantom. They said, for instance, that when Jesus walked, his feet left no prints on the ground, because he was pure spirit in a phantom body.

They went on to argue that God could never really suffer, and that therefore Jesus never really suffered but went through the whole experience of the cross without any real pain. When the Gnostics thought like that, they believed that they were honoring God and honoring Jesus; but they were really destroying Jesus. If he was ever to redeem man, he must become man. He had to become what we are in order to make us what He is.”

I believe that is why God inspired John to write what Jesus said here. He wanted John to show people that the pain that Jesus went through on the cross was real. The humanity and suffering of Jesus was real. Jesus’ thirst here was real. When Christ went through the temptation in the wilderness for those forty days, the hunger that Christ went through for that period of time was real. That’s why Satan tried to tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread. Satan knew that Christ was fully human and experiencing the pain of hunger like any human would who hadn’t had food in forty days, and that hunger and thirst had made Him weak, at least physically. That’s why Satan took him to the highest point of the temple and tried to get him to throw himself off the temple and test God who would save Him. Why would that be such a big deal if Christ’ body weren’t capable of being crushed and broken in a jump like that. Why would Christ pray in so much agony in the Garden of Gethsemane that He began to literally sweat blood over what He was getting ready to go through. And doctors will tell you that it is absolutely humanly possible to do that. But if his pain weren’t real it would be no sweat. I think that God not only wanted the Gnostics of that time to know that Jesus’ pain and suffering was real. But I think He wants us to know that as well. The physical pain and torture that Jesus went through, He went through for you and I. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of their rejection of Him those tears were tears of real hurt and pain. Even though Jesus isn’t in the flesh today I wonder if he might not be shedding tears over those who continue to reject Him in our lives today. He went through the pain and suffering and the discomforts of the human body for you and I. So that we would believe and be freed from our sins.

Two weeks ago to begin this series we talked about the spiritual agony that Christ was in when for the first time in His life He experienced separation from His Father, when He said “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I think that when Jesus made the statement “I am thirsty”, He was still experiencing that separation from the Father. I believe that He was not only experiencing a physical thirst, but a spiritual thirst as well. I believe that John wrote this statement to show us that when we are separated from our Father in Heaven we will have a thirst. Just like God made the human body to require a certain amount of water to function properly. He also made our soul in such a way that it needs to have that connection with God. If we are separated from God our soul has a thirst, an empty spot that can only be filled by God. No matter what we do nothing can take away that emptiness. Listen to the author of Psalm 42. 1As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Do you hear the hunger that He had for God? His soul had a deep spiritual thirst for God. It was a thirst that could only be quenched by fellowship with His God. Isaiah gave an invitation to the people in chapter 55, he said, “Come, all you who are thirsty?” If Jesus’ thirst were not only a physical thirst but also a spiritual thirst, it wouldn’t be the first time that Jesus talked of a physical and spiritual thirst. Remember at the well with the Samaritan woman. If you remember Jesus asked the woman at the well for a drink of water. She was stunned that He even talked to her, after all Jews just didn’t associate with Samaritans. Jesus began to talk to her about the living water that he could give. She thought He was talking about a physical water. She was wondering how He was going to get this living water because he didn’t have anything to dip it out with. But Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” He said, “the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Some of you out here have that spiritual thirst that can only be satisfied by God. You know that you have this hole in your soul. You’ve tried to fill it with a lot of things but nothing has worked. Christ is the living water that will take away that thirst. But our sins stop us from being able to receive that living water. God wants to have that fellowship with you that will bring you the fulfillment that you desire. But you must seek the forgiveness of your sins and go in a new direction. You must thirst for the living water. I am thirsty.

The last reason that I believe why God inspired John to record this statement is probably the clearest in the text. To show us through the fulfillment of the scripture that He was indeed the Messiah. In verse 28 it said, “…and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty. You see in Psalm 22:15 it predicted the thirst of Christ when it said, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth…” In Psalm 69:21 says, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” The Sour wine was essentially vinegar. Both of these Psalms begin with the sufferings of David but have their full meaning in the sufferings of Jesus. The greatest thing to me is that even at his point of greatest pain and suffering that Christ would make sure that every prophecy is fulfilled. Max Lucado in his book “He Chose the Nails” wrote this, “Why in his final moments, was Jesus determined to fulfill prophecy? He knew we would doubt. He knew we would question. And since he did not want our heads to keep his love from our hearts, he used his final moments to offer proof that he was the Messiah.”

Our Father in Heaven wanted us to know that Christ was indeed His son and the Messiah sent into the world to save us from our sins. Christ’ thirst on the cross was just the final statements of many proclaiming Him to be the Son of God.

This morning as we see the thirst of Christ on the cross, know that he suffered and felt hunger and thirst just like you and I have. He didn’t come down in a super body that didn’t feel pain and suffering. He came into the world born in flesh like you and I and went through trials and temptations and displayed the depth of His love on the cross. This morning if you put your trust in Him, He will give you living water that will enable you never to spiritually thirst again. He went through that spiritual thirst on the cross so you don’t have to experience that spiritual thirst now. He’s given us proof after proof to prove that He is who He says He is. Will you trust Him?

Will you trust Christ with your pain, with your suffering? He’s been there before.

Will you trust him with your fears and your dark secrets? He already knows and He wants to forgive you and bring you hope and freedom.

Will you trust Him to be your guide, your Lord and Savior? He knows the way and will light your path.

We all thirst for many things, but none of them will ever fill us up, none of them will ever quench our thirst for the things of the world, unless we have Jesus. Let’s pray.