“I am thirsty.”(John 19:28)
Of course he is. Jesus had lost a lot of blood and it would be natural for him to feel thirsty. And thus, he makes the simple statement which held an implicit request for refreshment. Jesus was fully human, he experienced thirst just like you and I do though we have no idea what it would be like to thirst in a situation like this one.
In a subtle way, this is a reminder that Jesus became human for us. In Hebrews we read, "Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people" (Heb 2:14-17).
It should encourage us that Jesus became human. It means he understands. He knows what it's like to suffer, to be tested. "Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested" (Heb 2:18).
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15).
Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses. When we are weak, when we struggle, when we feel pain, we cry out to One who knows what it’s like to be human. "Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:16).
Prayer of Reflection
Lord Jesus, on a literal level this request makes perfect sense. Given all You had endured, no doubt Your thirst was burning bitterly. And, as John points out in His gospel, Your request enabled the fulfillment of the psalm that spoke of vinegar being offered to the one drowning in troubles (Psalm 69).
Yet I marvel at the irony of Your asking for something to drink. After all, Your first miracle in the Gospel of John involved turning water into wine, providing liquid refreshment at a wedding (John 2). And then You had a conversation with a Samaritan woman after You had asked her for a drink. You told her that You offered living water that quenches all thirst (John 4). Not long thereafter, You invited all who are thirsty to come to You and drink (John 7).
Now, on the cross, You are thirsty, Lord. You who had the power to turn water into wine have chosen not to quench Your own thirst. You who offered fresh, living water chose to drink the rancid vinegar of death. You who invited the thirsty to come now suffer severe dehydration.
So that, through Your deprivation, we might enjoy the new wine of the kingdom.
So that, through Your death, we might drink of eternal life.
So that, through Your thirst, our parched souls might be quenched.
Not only do You offer living water, but also the cup of the new covenant in Your blood. From this cup we drink deeply of Your forgiveness. Through this cup we are drawn into intimate, everlasting relationship with God.
Thank You, dear Jesus, for being thirsty, so that I might be satisfied. Thank You for being empty, so that I might be filled. Thank You for dying, so that I might live through You.