April 9, 2003
5th Word - "The Word of Personal need"
INTRODUCTION: One can only imagine the personal sufferings of Jesus on the cross. There is trauma on a number of levels. Jesus suffered sleep depravation, the trauma of four trials; three Jewish and one Roman. For a period of roughly twenty-four hours he was beaten flogged; spat upon, humiliated and mocked. Jesus shows us that there is human suffering on the cross as he cries His fifth word: "I thirst!"
1. The 5th word of Jesus "I thirst" shows us the extent of His physical suffering.
A. One can only imagine the level of Jesus' suffering. The monitoring of physical pain has become a major concern of those in the health care field. Those enrolled in the hospice program, for example, must meet certain criteria. To enroll, they must have a physical sign off on their care. They must certify that the patient in question has six months or less to live. A terminal condition must be verified. The patient must also sign off on any prohibitive measures. In hospice care creature comforts and pain tolerance needs are the most critical issues.
In our day and time we strive to alleviate pain. We can do this with continuous dosages of morphine. The Romans of Jesus' day the focus was on inflicting pain and making a science out of it. Once I remember a twenty-six year old medical school resident at the Indiana University medical center telling a parent not to trust any pain medication older then he. Modern man is fixated on relieving pain. At the time of Christ the Romans spent decades perfecting the craft of human torture through the art and craft of crucifixion. As Jesus cried from the cross "I thirst" He was ravaged by extreme physical pain.
B. Yet, in the midst of His sufferings and pain Jesus will not speak until words of concern for others are spoken first. Did you notice that? First He has compassion the world's sin followed by words of comfort for the dying thief. Next His own mother. Not until He has addressed the needs of others does He consider His own.
Jesus would not place His needs about any other. If this were not so His goal of winning the world's salvation would have been diverted. Had He placed His own needs above others the Father's plan of salvation would have been perverted. Jesus would not think of His own needs thus He remains for us the Lord's suffering servant being abandoned by God and by men
Transition: Why was it necessary for Jesus to utter this phrase "I thirst"? As Jesus cries out "I thirst" we find Him to be truly human.
2. These words demonstrate Christ's complete humanity.
A. As true man Jesus felt separated by God. God the Father turned His back on the Son as He once turned His back on Adam and Eve, by the inhabitants of the world at the time of Noah, and by the citizens of Sodom and Gamier when He rained down fire from heaven. Now God will never turn His back on you for He did it once at the cross when He turned away from His own Son.
B. As true man Jesus was allowed to feel extreme human pain. We might have to experience extensive and extreme human pain but it will only last for a short season. Even if you have some sort of debilitating or disabling condition it will end in death. Those who don't know Christ will continue enduring the same pain Christ endured into eternity because they rejected the Son of God. The rich man crying out to the Father says "send even Lazarus to dip his finger in cool water and rub it on my tongue for I am in torment in this flame!" Any human pain the Christian will experience is temporary for Jesus has endured eternal physical pain at the cross.
C. Thank God Jesus did suffer the manner in which He suffered. The fact that Jesus did suffer makes His humanity real for us. The work of Jesus, that suffering servant, is a valid and certain work - recognized by the Father. The Father accepts the Son's suffering for you. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us: "By His stripes you are healed".
Transition: There is still a matter of Old Testament prophecy that needs to be cleared up. Jesus' suffering fulfills prophetic predictions.
3. These words spoken from the cross shows the fulfillment of prophecy.
A. Jesus' suffering was predicted in Psalm 22 and Psalm 69. Although they were written centuries before Jesus was born David speaks as if He is standing there at the cross. Read through these wonderful Psalms this week. The prophecies have been fulfilled by Jesus at the cross when He cried out "I thirst"
B. Fulfilled prophecy authenticates Christ. If Jesus were to fail in any of the clear Old Testament prophecies which predict what the Son of God would do Jesus would be considered a fake, a fraud, a false Christ. Yet because prophecy has been fulfilled we can say with Thomas "Jesus you alone are my Lord and my God!"
CONCLUSION: The 5th word spoken from the cross: "I thirst" shows the extent of Jesus' human suffering. It helps us endure our own hurts and pains and authenticates Christ as our one and only Messiah - the Savior of the world.