John 19:28 - Preparation for Easter - step 5.
John 19:28 (KJV) After this, Jesus knowing that all things were
now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I
This is the fifth of seven utterances of Jesus as He hung upon
the cross, sometimes called the Seven Words. No gospel writer
mentions more than three, nor less than one, of these utterances.
Arranged in point of time the seven "utterances" are as follows:
1. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (v. 34).
2. "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in
paradise" (v. 43).
3. "Woman, behold thy son! ... Behold thy mother!" (see on John
4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46;
5. "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6. "It is finished" (see on John 19:30).
7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (see on Luke
23:46). [SDA Commentary]
The Gospels report seven utterances by Jesus as He hung on the
cross. Three of these can be assigned to the first three hours, between
9 a.m. and 12 noon. Four can be assigned to the next three hours,
12-3 p.m., during which the scene was shrouded in darkness.
It is traditional during Good Friday services to meditate on
these seven utterances. Surely there is much here for us to ponder.
[Victor Bible Background Commentary]
The first word out of the darkness (My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?) impresses us with the deity of Jesus. This second
word out of the darkness (I thirst) reminds us of His humanity.
[Victor Bible Background Commentary re Mar.15:34]
John recorded the fifth saying, I am thirsty. The wording
indicated that Jesus was fully conscious and was aware of fulfilling the
details of prophecies. [Bible Knowledge Commentary]
I thirst; it was foretold that his tongue should cleave to his
jaws, <Ps. 22:15>. (Matthew Henry's Commentary)
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 altogether 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 that he was
only 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
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 they were honouring God and honouring 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. That is why John stresses the fact that Jesus felt
thirst; he wished to show that he was really human and really underwent
the agony of the Cross. John goes out of his way to stress the real
humanity and the real suffering of Jesus. [Barclay Commentary]
Thirst was one of the most distressing circumstances attending
the crucifixion. (Barnes' Notes)
The fatigue which he had undergone, the grief he had felt, the
heat of the day, and the loss of blood, were the natural causes of
this thirst. This he would have borne without complaint; but he
wished to give them the fullest proof of his being the Messiah, by
distinctly marking how everything relative to the Messiah, which had been
written in the prophets, had its complete fulfilment in him. (Adam
I thirst. The physical need of the sufferer asserted itself, the
only outward indication he permitted to escape his lips. Even so, he
stated a fact rather than voicing an appeal. [Wycliffe Bible
Psalm 22:15 describes this dimension of Jesus' sufferings: "My
strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of
my mouth." Physically the cross not only drained what strength
remained in Jesus' body after the brutal whipping He had received back in
Jerusalem, but had also instigated a raging fever that further dried out
His body tissues. This may suggest a reason why Christ called for a
drink. It was not to alleviate the thirst or relieve the suffering.
Most likely it was to momentarily relieve the dryness that His next,
triumphant words might be uttered clearly and triumphantly.
Despite the limits imposed by taking on our human nature, Christ
prevailed. [Victor Bible Background Commentary re Mar.15:34]
"I thirst" spoke both of physical and spiritual agony, for
Christ suffered the torment of hell for our sins. He thirsted that we
might never thirst. [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]