The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Humanity 1
Jesus’ spoken words from the cross emphasize the truths of forgiveness ("Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34), hope ("Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43), love (“Woman, behold your son; behold your mother.” John 19:26-27), atonement (Matthew 27:45-49) and humanity (John 19:28-30).
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30 ESV).
What is the meaning behind a seemingly insignificant statement such as “I thirst?”
To begin, John articulates that the atonement is complete, vs. 28a. When John uses the phrase “after this” he is referring to the events immediately preceding Jesus’ fifth statement. Within the context of John’s Gospel, it would have been Jesus’ statement to His mother Mary and His disciple John. However, within the overall context of the gospels, it was following the four previous statements, including His statement of atonement following the three hours of darkness.
John’s statement that “Jesus knowing that all was now finished” indicates that Jesus understood that the atonement in all of its facets was complete. Jesus had accomplished each and every aspect of the atonement for sin and sinners: Justification, Redemption and Propitiation. All of this was executed, completed, accomplished, and implemented.
The phrase “all was now finished” is a perfect passive indicative verb. This means that Jesus completed action on the cross which carries with it continuing results was a passive work by Christ. Jesus in His passive obedience, submitted to and executed all the Father’s will in providing salvation for sinners. This was done for sinners like you and me.
John is not only saying the atonement was completed, but also that the Scriptures were fulfilled, vs. 28b. Jesus affirmed as a reality the fulfillment of Scripture. What Scripture in particular? I submit the following:
Psalm 22:14 - I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:14 ESV). There are 15 allusions in the New Testament to Psalm 22.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:1-18 ESV)