On the outskirts of
Jerusalem, overlooking the garbage dumps Jesus was
crucified on rough-cut timbers with iron spikes.
The day began with a mock
trial and the scourging of the victims. Pilate had
Jesus scourged by the Roman soldiers. It was not
humane. A lictor, trained in the proper
administration this punishment, stripped and tied
the victim to a low stone column. He picked up a
flagellum composed of a short circular piece of wood
to which was attached several strips of leather.
Each strip had pieces of bone, pieces of iron chain,
nails, fishhook like claws and glass sewed to it.
According to Roman law there was no set number of
stripes to be administered, or to what parts of the
body upon which it could be inflicted. The lictor
took up his position about six feet behind Jesus.
Jim Bishop says, "The flagellum was brought all the
way back and whistled forward and made a dull drum
sound as the stripes of leather smashed against the
back of the rib cage. The bits of bone and chain
curled around the right side of the body and raised
small subcutaneous hemorrhages on the chest." Again
and again and again the flagellum came back slightly
lower each time and crashed against the skin and
flesh of Jesus. In a slow heavy pulsating rhythm the
victim of such beatings was often beaten to death.
If not he was a bloody pulp when the lictor had
finished his deadly job.
After being paraded
through the streets Jesus was led up to Golgotha
surrounded by four Roman soldiers and a centurion.
Jim Bishop in The Day Christ Died writes
"The executioner laid the
crossbeam behind Jesus and brought him to the ground
quickly by grasping his arm and pulling him
backward. As soon as Jesus fell, the beam was fitted
under the back of his neck and, on each side
soldiers quickly knelt on the inside of the elbows.
Jesus gave no resistance and said nothing, but he
groaned as he fell on the back of his head and the
thorns pressed against his torn scalp."
"Once begun, the matter
was done quickly and efficiently. With his right
hand, the executioner probed the wrist of Jesus to
find the little hollow spot. When he found it, he
took one of the square-cut iron nails from his teeth
and held it against the spot, directly behind where
the so-called lifeline ends. Then he raised the
hammer over the nail head and brought it down with
force. . . .
"Two soldiers grabbed
each side of the crossbeam and lifted. As they
pulled up, they dragged Jesus by the wrists. With
every breath, he groaned. When the soldiers reached
the upright, the four of them began to lift the
crossbeam higher until the feet of Jesus were off
the ground. The body must have writhed with pain . .
"His arms were now in a V
position, and Jesus became conscious of two
unendurable circumstances: the first was that the
pain in his wrists was beyond bearing, and that
muscle cramps knotted his forearms and upper arms
and the pads of his shoulders; the second was that
his pectoral muscles at the sides of his chest were
momentarily paralyzed. This induced in him an
involuntary panic; for he found that while he could
draw air into his lungs, he was powerless to exhale"
Jesus had been enduring
this kind of suffering on the cross for about three
hours, from nine a.m. until noon. Throughout all of
the commotion about the cross we have heard Jesus
keep praying, "Father forgive them; for they do not
know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). The two
criminals got caught up for a time with the hostile
crowd sneering at Jesus. They were shouting out with
the crowd assembled before them, "He saved others;
let Him save Himself if this is the Messiah, the
Chosen One!" Another kept on shouting, "If You are
the King of the Jews, save Yourself and us!" Then
one of the criminals came to his senses as he
observed the divine Sufferer enduring the sins of
others and he kept saying, "Jesus, remember me when
You come into Your kingdom!" "Jesus remember me . .
. " After some time Jesus said once and for all with
no repetition, "Truly I say to you, today you shall
be with me in paradise" (23:42-43). At some point
during the first three hours of the suffering the
apostle John and four women drew nearer to the
cross. Jesus' mother was with them. When Jesus saw
His mother and "the disciples whom he loved" near
the cross, Jesus said to His mother, "Woman, behold,
your son!" then He said to the disciple, "Behold,
your mother!" (John 19:25-27). John took Mary to his
home in Jerusalem and then made his way back to the
ugly scene. This drama kept on going on in the face
of Jesus for about three hours and then a sudden,
intense darkness fell upon the land from noon until
three p.m. Toward the end of that three hours of
quiet darkness that surrounded the scene the
Suffering Servant of Yahweh cried out in a loud
voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?" that is, "My
God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew
After about six hours the
events surrounding the crucifixion of Christ now
move quite rapidly. John tells us, "Jesus, knowing
that all things had already been accomplished, in
order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, said,
'I am thirsty'" (John 19:28). A Roman soldier poured
some cheap sour wine onto a sponge and lifted it up
on a hyssop branch to the lips of Jesus. When He
received the sour wine He said, "Finished!" Jesus
then with a loud voice said, "Father, into thy hands
I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46). He gave up His
spirit. A centurion standing by saw what happened
and "began praising God, saying, 'Certainly this man
was innocent'" (v. 47).
Let's go back and focus
our attention on Jesus in John 19:28-29. Jesus
has been suffering for six hours and it is now
around three p.m. "Jesus, knowing that all things
had already been accomplished, to fulfill the
Scripture, said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar full of sour
wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full
of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and
brought it up to His mouth."
Let's reflect on what
those words of Jesus meant as we contemplate our
THE COMPLETION OF OUR
Jesus is alert
The apostle John, who was
present at the cross wrote, "Jesus, knowing that all
things had already been accomplished . . ." (v.
28a). The hardest part of the suffering is now over
and now Jesus asked for a drink. He wasn't in some
swoon. He was alert in His suffering and the reason
for His suffering. Even on the cross He is in
control and the Master of the moment. He is alert up
to the moment of His death.
What is it that Jesus now
knows? All things have now been accomplished. They
have been brought to a close or reached their goal.
The last act in His suffering has now been
Whatever it was that
Jesus accomplished in that bitter agony during the
three hours of darkness when He was covered with our
guilt, and experienced the Father turn His face from
Him was now consummated. When that was over, the
final act was finished, and by that act His purpose
of suffering was finished and He completed what the
Scripture foretold concerning His death. Jesus was
aware that nothing more was needed. The awful, cruel
ugly task of paying the penalty for our sins was
accomplished. Nothing needed to be added to His
completed work. In the terrible darkness that
covered the land Jesus had cried out, "My God, my
God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" After this terrible
suffering in the dense darkness was over Jesus asked
for a drink. It is now that He knows that all His
work is done.
"All things had already
been accomplished" reveals the things Christ went to
the cross to do. When He spoke these words, all
things were accomplished. They stood finished and
now He must only gain strength and declare that our
redemption is completed and then give up His spirit.
There was nothing more to be done. He had made the
once-for-all sacrifice for sin. The Seed of the
woman had bruised the serpent's head. The struggle
with the power of darkness was over. He had won the
battle for the souls of lost men.
Lenski writes, "The
entire Scriptures in all that they present
concerning the earthly work of Jesus have now been
turned into actuality, the work mapped out by
Scripture is now a work actually accomplished" (John,
p. 1303). Nothing else needed to be done. His work
of suffering is complete. In a few minutes Jesus
will sip the sour wine at His lips and shout
"Finished!" announcing to the world that His work is
done. The price for our redemption is paid in full.
What was accomplished
took place in those three hours of darkness when
Jesus, covered with our guilt, experienced that even
God had turned his face from Him. Jesus' suffering
in bitter agony was over, and our redemption was
completed. All that the Scriptures had foretold
concerning His earthly work was completed. Nothing
more was needed but to give up His spirit and die.
The long, great work of redemption was completely
THE CREDENTIALS OF OUR
What was in John's mind
when he wrote, "in order that the Scriptures might
be fulfilled" (v. 28b)? The construction here calls
for the fulfillment in the words of Jesus, "I
thirst." As Lenski notes, Jesus said, "I thirst,"
not "I die."
A. T. Robertson writes,
"John sees the thirst of Jesus in Psalm 69:2f. . .
This is one of the severest agonies of crucifixion."
The thirst was excruciating and intensified as He
hung on the cross. Let it be clearly
understood. The Scriptures had not predicted that
the coming messiah would cry out, "I thirst." But
the Scriptures had indicated that the Messiah would
be a Suffering messiah. Jesus is the one and only
one who fulfills the scriptures pointing to the
coming Deliverer. It is not King David who suffers
as an innocent, vicarious divine sufferer, but One
greater than David.
F. F. Bruce also suggests
Psalm 22:15, "my tongue cleaves to my jaws" because
of the bitter dehydration and blistering thirst. The
Scriptures were fulfilled spontaneously from the
lips of Jesus. Nothing is forced on the Old
Psalm 69:1-3, 7-9, 19-21
is another of those great prophecies in the Old
Testament of the humiliation of the Messiah. It
speaks of our suffering Savior. The first four
verses could be easily compared to the suffering of
Jesus. Verse four, "Those who hate me without cause
are more than the hairs of my head . . ." Cf. John
John saw the words in
verse nine being fulfilled in the events recorded in
John 2:17. "For zeal for Thy house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have
fallen on me."
All four of the Gospel
writers saw v. 21 fulfilled in the death of
Jesus. "They also gave me gall for my food, and for
my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Matthew,
Mark and Luke saw it being fulfilled in the
beginning hours of the crucifixion when the merciful
women offered Jesus the narcotic drink, but Jesus
refused it (Matt. 27:34, 48; Mk. 15:23; Lk. 23:36).
However, John sees it being fulfilled here in these
last moments of Jesus life just before the cry of
victory from the cross. This is not the hypnotic
drugged wine the merciful women offered Jesus which
He refused at the beginning of the crucifixion.
"Jesus resolved to die with unclouded mind." This is
the sour wine of the soldiers, "far from dulling the
senses, may be intended to preserve or revive full
consciousness." I think Leon Morris and many other
scholars are correct in thinking "that He wished to
undergo His sufferings with a clear mind. But now He
is at the point of death. He wishes to say something
that will be herd, so calls for a drink to moisten
His parched throat. He drinks, then says, "'It is
finished.' Immediately He dies . . . . Elsewhere we
read that Jesus uttered a loud cry just before His
death." This was a Victor's cry! It was a cry of
triumph! Read again John 19:28-30. "Jesus,
knowing that all things had already been
accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, 'I am
thirsty.' A jar full of sour wine was standing
there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine
upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His
mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour
wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed His
head and gave up His spirit."
"Those are right who
agree that 'I thirst' voices a purely physical
desire. It is, indeed, true that now all is
finished, the work is done, the battle over, the
victory won," writes Lenski. This is a request that
Jesus makes. He asked for a drink. He wanted the
sour wine to moisten His parched lips and throat.
"He was rallying for His last strength. . . He wants
His lips and His throat moistened in order that He
may do just what the synoptists report that He does,
namely utter a loud shout and thus die. Even the
centurion was astonished a this mode of death. . .
This request and the actual death were separated by
only a few moments" (p. 1306).
This request of Jesus was
fulfilled; He received the drink for which He
requested. A Roman soldier took a reed and filled a
sponge with the cheapest kind of sour wine and
lifted it up to Jesus' fevered lips. That is why
some of our older translations call it vinegar. It
was the cheapest kind of sour wine the poorer people
and Roman soldiers drank. It definitely was not like
the good stuff Jesus made! Without a pause Jesus
said, "Finished!" Luke tells us Jesus cried aloud,
"Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!" Having
said this He died. The Son went home to be with the
Father after having done the Father's will. "No
wonder His voice rose to its loudest pitch." His
work is brought to its perfect completed state.
Done! Finished! Complete!
All things . . .
The entire Scriptures in
all that they present concerning the earthly work of
Jesus have now been turned into actuality. The
divine work of atonement mapped out by the
Scriptures is now a work actually accomplished.
After Jesus rose from the
dead He said to two men as they walked along the
road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, "O foolish men and
slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets
have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to
suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets,
He explained to them the things concerning Himself
in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:25-27). Later that
same night Jesus appeared before all the disciples
in Jerusalem and ate with them. Before leaving He
said, "These are My words which I spoke to you while
I was still with you, that all things which are
written about Me in the Law of Moses and the
Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He
opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and
He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the
Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the
third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of
sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the
nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (vv. 44-46).
Let me whet your
spiritual appetite and encourage you to examine on
your own some of the many Scriptures that refer to
the person and work of Christ in the Old Testament.
Check out the studies on Christ in the Old Testament
where we examine some of the identifying marks of
our Redeemer. If you believe the Scriptures you will
make no mistake in identifying Him. His cry, "I
thirst," marked Him as the promised Suffering
Servant and Savior of men.
In Genesis 3:15 Jesus is
crushing the head of serpent. Paul wrote in Romans
16:20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under
your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."
The victory won over Satan at Calvary becomes your
victory and mine.
Jesus is the Lamb of
Genesis 22:7 when Isaac inquired of his father
Abraham, "Where is the lamb?" If there were no lamb,
Isaac must die. At the cross, the Lamb is identified
and He makes Isaac's sacrifice for him. John the
baptizer saw Jesus and declared, "Behold, the Lamb
of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John
Numbers 21:9 Jesus is the
one being lifted up that whoever believes in Him may
be eternal life. Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of
Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in
Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal
life" (John 3:14–16).
Moses spoke of the coming
of the Prophet of God in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. Here
at the Cross Jesus is the one unique spokesman of
God proclaiming the finished work of God in
redeeming the world. Hebrews 1:2-3 tells us
God "has spoken to us in His Son." "He is the
radiance of His glory and the exact representation
of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of
His power. When He had made purification of sins, He
sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high .
. ." Jesus had told some Pharisees on an earlier
occasion, "For if you believed Moses, you would
believe Me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not
believe his writings, how will you believe My
words?" (John 5:46–47).
The person of whom the
Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote in 7:14 is fulfilled in
the coming of Immanuel, "God with us." When giving
reassurance to Joseph the angel Gabriel said, "And
she (Mary) shall bear a Son; and you shall call His
name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people
from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Here at the cross
these words are being fulfilled.
This is the One in Isaiah
53:3 who is "despised and forsaken of men, a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . ." Jesus told
His disciples, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem
and the Son of Man will be delivered up to the chief
priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him
to death, and will deliver Him unto the Gentiles.
And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and
scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He
will rise again" (Mark 10:33-34). These
prophesies were fulfilled.
At the cross we see
Isaiah 53:4 fulfilled in the One who "my griefs He
Himself bore, And my sorrows he carried; Yet I
esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and
afflicted." This is not a reference to healing in
the atonement, but Jesus dealing with the root of
our sin problem.
Please allow me to
reverently change the pronouns in Isaiah 53:5-6 to
clarify the application. "Jesus Christ was pierced
through for my transgressions, he was crushed for my
iniquities; the chastening for my well-being fell
upon Him, and by His scourging I am healed. All of
us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has
turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the
iniquity of all to fall on Christ" (Isaiah 53:5–6).
Jesus is the One in
Isaiah 53:10 of whom "the LORD was pleased to crush
Him, putting Him to grief; If he would render
Himself as a guilt offering. . . "
Jesus is that offering crushed for you on the Cross.
"He Himself bore the sins of many" (v. 12). The
apostle Peter remember that cruel scene and wrote:
"He [Christ] Himself bore our sins in His body on
the cross, that we might die to sin and live to
righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
For you were continually straying like sheep, but
now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian
of your souls."
Yes, His credentials are
authentic. They certify Him to be the Suffering
Servant of Yahweh and our Savior. "Jesus, knowing
that all things had already been accomplished, in
order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said,
'I am thirsty'. . . When Jesus therefore had
received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished!'
And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit" (John
19:28, 30). I want one who has those kinds of
credentials as my Savior and Lord.
THE COST OF OUR
Wrath of God
exhausted on Christ
"Jesus said . . . I
thirst" (v. 28c-29). Jesus was revealing a physical
condition. The Water of Life had drained Himself dry
in the fires of hell for you and me. The fight was
so bitter, the fire was so hot, and the contest was
so severe, that he had to give His all. Death was
the price of His victory. The One who drank your
bitter cup of woe is now exhausted. The wrath of God
has exhausted itself on Jesus!
This is the purely
physical agony of the cross. Jesus was a human being
suffering, not some Gnostic spirit. He was the
incarnate Son of God. He was fully human and fully
alive. He was God–Man enduring the agony of physical
suffering on our behalf.
The spiritual suffering
for our sins is now complete, finished, done. The
battle is over; the victory is won. The victor
makes a simple request, "I thirst." With His lips
and throat moistened He gathers up His strength and
cries, "Tetelestai!" and says, "Father into
thy hands I commit My spirit" and breathed His last.
The Son went home to the
Father after doing the Father's will. The death of
Jesus finishes His redemptive work. The
redemptive shedding of His blood, done once for all,
is finished and stands as finished forever. Jesus
offered up Himself once for all (Hebrews 7:27). No
more sacrifices! His one all sufficient sacrifice
for sin is sufficient! Christ appeared as a high
priest in the "perfect tabernacle, not made with
hands" and offered up the perfect sacrifice for sin.
Hebrews 9:12 says, "not through the blood of goats
and calves, but through His own blood, He entered
the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption." "The wages of sin is death," "For the
death He died, He died to sin, once for all . . ."
(Romans 6:23, 10).
If you do not see Him as
your Substitute, and His victory as your victory,
there is no hope for you. He is exhausted because He
has won the victory for you. He is thirsty because
He has gone through your fire. Now He wants you to
know it. To remain ignorant is fatal.
Jesus died for you
Jesus died for you and
me. It was your death He was dying. You and I
deserved to die, and He intervened on our behalf and
made the decision to die in our place. We deserve to
die for our sins just like those two criminals did
on their crosses. We are sinners. We have failed to
bring glory to God. The wages of our sin is death
(Romans 6:23, 3:23). The Bible is extremely clear in
its interpretation of Christ's death. "For while we
were still helpless, at the right time Christ died
for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a
righteous man; though perhaps for the good man
someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates
His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us" (5:6-8). Make no
mistake about it. It is vital for us to understand
this great Biblical truth.
It is not His teaching
ability, nor His miraculous power, nor His early
appeal to the crowds, nor His surpassing sympathy,
but it is His atoning sacrifice that meets human
needs. Neither man nor God will be satisfied apart
from the offering of an all–sufficient Lamb whose
blood has been shed for the sin of the world.
There is no one else to
call upon for salvation. Only in the name of Jesus
can you receive God's gift of eternal life. "There
is salvation in no one else; for there is no other
name under heaven that has been given among men by
which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Any and every
other name will send you to an eternal hell and
eternal separation from the LORD God.
But now He wants to fill
your cup. The resurrected, living Savior wants to
come into your heart and give you eternal life. He
is alive and He wants to come in and live in you
through His Holy Spirit. He offers to you refreshing
waters of life. Jesus stands and pleads with you
today, "Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one
who wishes take the water of life without cost"
(Revelation 22:17b). Are you thirsty? Come.
Ask Christ to be
It begins with a simple
transaction. Believing that Jesus died in your place
on the cross "if you confess with your mouth Jesus
as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised
Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the
heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness,
and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in
salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). Will you do that right
Will you right now pray,
"Lord Jesus I am a sinner. I need you to come into
my heart and give me your life. I believe you died
for me on the cross and rose from the dead. I
invite you to come into my life right now. I want
You as my Savior."
Jesus said, "Every one
therefore who shall confess me before men, I will
also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.
But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also
deny Him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew
Complete Series on 7 Last Saying of Christ
19:28-29 "I Thirst"
Series: Seven Last Saying