A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” –John 19:28 (KJV)
This simple verse of scripture is full of wisdom, spiritual depth and assurance.
It first speaks of Messianic fulfillment. Jesus Christ became Messiah to fulfill the law and to be the typological fulfillment of the visions that the prophets of old intoned. Jesus may well have been quoting Psalm 69:20 where the psalmist was beseeching the Lord to hear of his plight and intercede in his behalf, with his marauding adversaries. Under real persecution the psalmist says that the enemies had reproached and dishonored him.
Reproachment comes in many different ways. Subtle marginalization, economic distancing, othering, then physical assaults. The psalmist pled his case before God: They have broken my heart, depressed my psyche and left me pitiful. They served me soured mush made with bile. When I thirsted they gave me vinegar to drink. It was so bitter that my head shook reflexively in disgust, and they laughed at me.
When Jesus hung, crucified, dehydrated, bruised and helpless, His persecutors treated Him with disdain and reproachment of historical reflection. He was reminded of the psalmist cry. Bearing the sins of the world and making right the wrongs of sin, he even took on that burden and said, “I thirst.” They lifted a sponge to His mouth after soaking it in a vat of cheap wine mixed with vinegar and water. When He took it, He carried the pain, shame and inequities of life for every one of us, all the way to the cross.
Christ fulfilled a prophecy showing that He knows where we are and what is going on around us. He fulfilled a prophecy assuring us that He can fulfill the purposes that were coded into our DNA.
The second concept is that because of the brutality that he had endured, Christ was physically parched and thirsty. There is no physical need that is more compelling than thirst. You can be hungry and last awhile without food. Your other sense may at times cry for fulfillment, but none will drive you quite like thirst.
In your thirsts, know that there is no temptation, no unmet need or desire that Christ has not felt (1 Corinthians 10:13). He feels what we feel and have felt. He knows how compelling loneliness can be. He knows about physical pain and desire. He knows about emotional distance and isolation. He knows about unmet expectations and unfulfillment. He carried that to the cross too, yet without sin!
Take hope and be encouraged by Christ that you too can overcome the world, including your own body, and be victorious through Christ who strengthens us.
Through it all, God was with His Son Jesus Christ. You can have that same assurance that God is with you and you can come through the challenge victorious. It may involve pain, isolation, or deprivation, but on the other side is validation, vindication and salvation.
I would like to think that when Jesus shouted into the swirling winds of dark, demonic presence as He hung dying on the Cross, He was declaring His victory over sin, death and the grave. He was claiming his victor’s cup and taking to himself the bride of Christ, His church of which we are members.
Christ’s words, “I thirst” were the intonation for all time that Jesus won and has redeemed us, not just for yesterday, but for tomorrow, and for all time and I just want to say, “Thank you, Lord!”
Let’s Pray: Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free! To God be the glory! In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.
Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.