Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip Heitzig: Turn in your Bibles, please, to the gospel of John this morning. We're taking a break from First Peter to the gospel of John. And I want to look at something Jesus said from the cross as we enter into this season. Let's pray together. Father, we are so thankful that we do have technology available that can be very powerful, the power of an invitation, of inviting someone, and asking someone to join us. I've heard so many stories of people who have just been invited by someone who cared for them and what that meant in the long run. I'm thankful, Lord, that there is a group of people here that just loves to ask friends to come and invites relatives.
And we've seen the fruit of it over the years, so thank you for this church. And we pray now, Lord, for our own hearts as we gather and are exposed to the truth of your Word, that you, your Holy Spirit would speak to us, and that it would be meaningful, and you would prepare and ready our hearts during this season, in Jesus' name, amen. Well, it's actually good that I have my phone out, because this is my opening illustration. We live in the world of "i." It's all about "i." We have the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad, iTunes, and it's the world of "i." "i" is the letter that Apple Corporation has chosen for their digital platform.
And just a few days ago they sold their 500 millionth iPhone. Five hundred million of these babies have been sold around the world. Fifty billion apps---you know what apps are, applications that you download for this thing. Fifty billion apps, 25 million songs, have been downloaded on iTunes. This is the new drug of choice and people are even driving under the influence. Can I say that? I think you know what I mean. It's like they're driving while they're texting. Or you'll see people walking around and they're not even looking at each other. It's like---[murmurs and stares at iPhone].
They're in a restaurant and they're not even looking at each other. It's, like, why don't you text the person across from them so you can get a conversation going here. [laughter] Before Steve Jobs died, the founder of Apple, he was asked what "i" meant. What's all about---what's the "i"? Two words, he said, come to his mind: individuality and inspiration. He said, "It's all about personalizing the power of technology, individualizing it." Whatever you need, it's iPhone, it's iPod. So you know that they have a little saying: "We have an app for that." So you want to take a creative photograph? We have an app for that.
You want to write a book? We have an app for that. You want to find out the weather anywhere in the world? We have an app for that. Want to play Angry Birds driving on San Mateo? Unfortunately, we have an app for that. [laughter] But deep inside the heart of every single man and woman ever born is a deep thirst, and only God has an app for that. That's because Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth, experienced everything we as humans experience, so that he could give to us what we deeply need. In John's gospel, chapter 19, we come to the fifth statement of Jesus on the cross. There were seven all together.
The fifth statement, the fifth saying, the fifth word of Jesus on the cross, the little statement, "I thirst!" In verse 28, "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' Now a vessel of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth." Two words, "I thirst!" That's in English. In Greek it's actually only one word with five short letters: dipso, dipso. Not "I thirst!" but rather iThirst. Not iPad, not iPhone, not iPod, iThirst.
But when Jesus made this statement, it wasn't about individual productivity, it was about universal opportunity, it was about salvation---those seven sayings on the cross where Jesus is communicating something very significant to us. It is of all the statements on the cross the most human: "I thirst!" But it's also, strangely, the most ironic as we will see. A person's last words are significant. A person's first words, in my opinion, aren't as significant. Now, I know every parent makes a huge deal out of the first word a child makes, like, "Did you hear what he said? He actually said a sentence." No, not really. That's your imagination.
Now, it's cool, but honestly, what I said and what you said were probably the very same thing or very close to it. When we made our first words, they were something like [baby babble]. [laughter] And you went, "Wow! That was awesome!" Now, if I said that twenty-five years later, it wouldn't be so awesome, would it? [laughter] A person's last words, however, are much more significant, more pregnant with meaning, because they reveal who that person really, really is. Last words differ dramatically from person to person. People die differently because people live differently.
If a person lives with hope, they generally die with hope. If a person lives a life of despair, they often die the same way they live. Several years ago there was a dear woman in our church who was on her deathbed. I watched her as she went through a debilitating disease, and she was in the hospital for her final the days. Her family asked me to come. I was happy to do so. And as I was walking toward the room, the family stopped me and they said, "We just want you to know she's not really coherent. She's in and out of consciousness, but she would love to know that you're there. Just whisper your name in her ear."
And so I opened the door. The room was darkened. And I went over and I whispered my name in her ear, and I just sort of patted her hand, and said, "We're going to pray together." And she sat up and she opened her eyes and she said, "Pastor, I'm ready to go." And she laid back down, closed her eyes, and within minutes she was in glory. I know the way she lived, and the way she died reflected the way she lived. So we have Jesus' last words. They're important not just because Jesus said them, but because of where he said them from, the cross. The cross, that's the greatest transaction in the history of humanity, the cross.
Think of it this way: while Jesus was doing his greatest work on earth, he was uttering his greatest words on earth. The greatest sermon ever preached were these seven last statements from the cross. Now, let me set it up for you. Our Lord was placed on that cross about nine o'clock in the morning. He hung there for six hours. For the first three hours he gave three statements. All of them were about other people; none of them were about himself.
His first statement is: "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." His second statement was to a man who was dying next to him: "Today you will be with me in Paradise." His third statement was to and about his own mother who was at the cross when Jesus said, "Woman, behold your son! Son," speaking to John, "behold your mother!" Then at twelve noon a darkness that lasted three hours fell over the entire land, this mysterious darkness, and all was silent. Finally, Jesus broke the silence with a guttural cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
And that followed three more statements: this one, the fifth statement, "I thirst!" followed by, "It is finished!" that's the sixth statement; and, finally, "Father, 'into your hands I commit my spirit,' "and Jesus died. I've chosen to look at this statement because these two verses show his suffering as well as his sovereignty. Two verses, three quick things to make note of. Note with me what Jesus knew, what Jesus said, and what Jesus did. Let's look at what he knew. Verse 28, "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' "
You know, you can't read the New Testament, you can't get very far in this New Testament until you come to a realization that Jesus knew everything, which would be very unnerving to get close to a person like that. Imagine having your good friend who knew everything. He knew what you were thinking. Twice, once in Matthew, once in Luke, it says this: "And Jesus knowing their thoughts said to them, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts?' "It would be very tough hanging out with a guy like that. I'd be sitting around and Jesus would say, "Skip, that weird thought you just had, I know about that." "You know that?" "Yeah, I know all of them." "Oh, man."
In John, chapter 13, we are told, "And Jesus knew that it was his time to depart this world and go to the Father." After the resurrection, when Jesus confronted his good friend Peter who said he would never deny him, and he did deny him, and our Lord asked him this question: "Peter, do you love me? Peter, do you love me? Peter, do you love me?" Finally, Peter said, "Lord, you know all things; and you know that I love you." "You know all things." Jesus knew every single thing leading up to the cross, that all of the Scripture was fulfilled except for one, and that's the reference here. So, "Jesus, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' "
Now, what was he speaking of? He's referring to Psalm 69. It's a messianic prediction, a messianic psalm in which it says in verse 21 of that Psalm, "They offered me sour wine to satisfy my thirst." Sour wine, what is sour wine? Sour wine was the low-grade, cheap wine; think Boone's Farm, [laughter] not the good stuff, not the gourmet stuff. It's the stuff Roman soldiers drank when doing work like this. It's the stuff that legionnaires would drink when this gruesome task of crucifixion---just bring out the cheap stuff, the sour wine. But we're told by John that it was dipped in---that hyssop was dipped into that sour wine and given to Jesus, hyssop.
Now to Jewish ears that meant something. First of all, hyssop was a long reed. It was on a stalk and the end was very, very bushy. It grows sort of like a weed around Jerusalem. And it's convenient because it sops up the liquid and it can be used for this purpose, to administer drink. But to Jewish ears hyssop would remind them of the tenth plague in Egypt, the Passover, when Moses told the fathers in Israel, "Take hyssop and dip it in blood, the blood of a lamb, and but it on the lintels and doorposts of your home." That's Passover. Jesus was dying on what feast? Passover.
Just a few hundred yards away in the temple, lambs were literally being killed, and hyssop was still used in the ceremony, as in this ceremony. Hyssop was used to administer drink to the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. So at that moment Jesus knew every prophetic Scripture was lined up. He knew it completely. I bring this up because there's always two sides of the cross that I think we should consider. There is, first of all, the human side, and, second, the divine side. There's human responsibility, but there's divine sovereignty. You see, on one hand, the cross was a plot, a diabolical plot by sinful, hateful men: Judas collaborating with leaders who collaborated with Pontius Pilate.
And all of those malevolent people gathered together to do something that was unlawful, illegal, very hateful. And there was a responsibility on a human level for that. But, on the other hand, it was God arranging all things in order that he might accomplish all things. Both sides are put together. And, by the way, if you want to see those two truths in one single verse of Scripture, Peter said it in Acts chapter 2 verse 23. He said, speaking of Jesus Christ, "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by [wicked hands] lawless hands, crucified, and put to death." God arranged it, but you did it. God is sovereign, but you are also responsible.
So the Lord God can allow people to make choices while at the same time be in perfect control. I suppose a lesson from this would be: the best way to live your life, the best way to live your life, the safest way to live your life is in absolute and total surrender to God, to God's plan. How about this: wake up in the morning, when your eyes pop open---because you don't know what the day's going to bring. You've got plans, but God may have other plans. He may interrupt your plans. So how about this: "Lord, I am surrendered to whatever you have for me today. I just pray you will arrange all things so that you would accomplish all things that are according to your will."
"Arrange all things, accomplish all things according to your will, whether that means a cross or a crown; whether it means something bad or something good." Something else to make a note of: the relationship of Jesus Christ to the Scripture. Let me ask you a question: What did Jesus think of the Bible, the Scripture, in this case, the Old Testament, because these are Old Testament predictions? Do you think Jesus would have said this: "Well, I think it was a well-meaning document written by sincere men, but they made a lot of mistakes. You can't really rely on everything they wrote in this. It's accurate in some places, but inaccurate in other places."
Do you think he thought that? Not at all. Sixty-four times Jesus refers to the Old Testament as "the word of God." He quotes Deuteronomy, chapter 8, "Man shall not live by bread alone; but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." In John, chapter 10, Jesus said, "And the Scripture cannot be broken." In Mark, chapter 14, Jesus said, "And the Scriptures must be fulfilled." You're getting the idea of what he really thinks about the Old Testament Scriptures, right? Five different times he asked Jewish leaders, teachers of the law: "Have you never read what the law says? what David said? what Moses said? Have you never read . . .?"
It's always a good question to ask a Bible teacher: "You guys actually ever read the Bible, because it says this and it says that?" But the definitive statement of all is on the Sermon on the Mount when our Lord said, "Not one jot, not one tittle will pass from the law until everything is fulfilled." Now why do I bring this up? For this reason: find out what a person thinks about the Bible and you'll really find out what a person thinks about Jesus. Find out what the person thinks about the Bible and you'll find out what a person really thinks about Jesus. Because if they say, "Oh, I believe in Jesus and follow him, but I can't really trust all of the Bible," you're going to have a real problem with Jesus Christ.
If you don't share the same view of this Book as Jesus Christ, it will show up in the way you live and the way you die. You will be unstable as water while you live, and you will probably be fearful when you die. There's something about having authority that this is the Word of God and the Scripture cannot be broken. That's what Jesus knew. Now, let's think about what Jesus said: "That the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, "I thirst!" Two words; one word, as I mentioned, in Greek, dipso, I thirst. Now that statement reveals a few things. First of all, it reveals how intense the cross was, the intensity of the cross.
"I thirst!" brings us back to this cruel form of execution invented by the Persians and perfected by the Romans, and one of the physiological results of crucifixion, which is dehydration. The loss of body fluids cause the tissues in the body to send stimuli to the brain that this must be attended to. Frederic Farrar in his classic book called The Life of Christ writes about the crucifixion. He says, and I quote: "The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins, the crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the arteries---especially of the head and the stomach---became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst," end quote.
Do you know that it's possible that Jesus Christ had not had a drink for eighteen hours, since the Last Supper with his disciples? Scripture says he got up after that and went down to the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweat great drops of blood, a medical condition doctors call hematidrosis. The tiny capillaries in the sweat glands of the forehead under extreme emotional conditions burst and the victim has a sweaty blood profusion. Then he was taken and brought before trial. Not one trial, not two trials, but six trials: three religious, three secular. He was on his feet, no doubt, for the whole set of them.
Finally, Pilate took him and had him beaten, flogged; enormous amount of bloodletting, so body fluids are leaving his body. Now he's on the cross for six hours. So when he cries out, "I thirst!" he is in extreme thirst. It shows us the intensity of the cross. There's something else this little statement reveals, not only the cross's intensity, but Jesus' humanity. "I thirst!" I mean that's as human as it gets. That's why I say we can relate to this statement more than any of the others. "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing"; hard to relate to that. "Today you will be with me in Paradise"; hard to relate to that. But, "I thirst!" we can all relate to that.
It's the most natural, most human statement. You probably said it once or twice already today. Your body is two-thirds water. You require about two and a half quarts of water a day just for your systems to work properly. In your lifetime you will consume---get this---about 16,000 gallons of water. You need it. If you've been into a hospital lately, checked in, one of the first things that they do is put an IV in you, keep you hydrated. "I thirst!" So natural, however, this is ironic, because who was it that's saying, "I thirst!"? The same One who said, "I'm the living water. Whoever believes in me will never thirst"; he's saying, "I thirst!"
This is the One that made every single body of water on earth to quench the thirst of humanity; he's saying, "I thirst!" Let me tell you why I'm pressing the point. Traditionally, historically as evangelicals we have been so good at defending the deity of Christ. We're comfortable with that. We assert Jesus is God, and rightly so. Where we get a little sketchy and a little nervous is dealing with his humanity, that he was undiminished Deity while being unprotected humanity. He was the God-man. He experienced. He got tired. He got thirsty. He was fatigued. Did you know that the first heresy, the first false doctrine, the first attack on the church wasn't a denial of the deity of Christ, but of his humanity?
It's called Gnosticism. They claimed that Jesus didn't have a physical body. So what Jesus knew from the cross shows his deity; what Jesus said from the cross shows his humanity. "I thirst!" But this little statement not only shows us the cross's intensity and Jesus' humanity, it also shows us his humility, his humility. Years later the apostle Paul will write in Philippians, "He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross." This is God stooping down this low, humbling himself to this point, that he would say, "I thirst!" How humble. You should probably know this was not the first time they offered him a drink on the cross; this was the second time.
Matthew 27 records the first time. And the first time they offered it, he refused it. The Bible says they took and "they gave him sour wine mixed with gall," and he wouldn't drink it. Why? Because gall is an analgesic. It numbs the pain. It dopes a person up. It diminishes the intensity of what they're feeling. Jesus didn't want that. He wanted to drink in the full intensity of this moment. He didn't want any of his senses diminished. That's why he came, to take it all, to drink it in. Remember what he said in the garden of Gethsemane? "Lord, if it is possible, Father, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done." So Jesus is surrendering himself to drink it all.
Now let's notice, finally, what he did. Verse 30, "So when Jesus had received the sour wine," he drank it. He took it. That's what he did. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.' He drank, he took, and in drinking that he took the cup of suffering. Can you picture---will you allow yourself the imagination in your mind to picture that reed of hyssop going up as it nears Jesus' lips. His lips are quivering and he tastes it and he sucks in that moisture. You know what he is doing? He is tasting death. Hebrews 2, "That he, by the grace of God, might taste death for every man."
Think of what Jesus has endured on the cross: darkness, separation from God the Father---"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"---burning thirst. Darkness, separation from God, burning thirst. Darkness, separation from God, burning thirst. What does that sound like? Sounds like hell. Jesus tasted hell, because hell is a place of eternal darkness, eternal separation from God, of eternal thirst, burning thirst without satisfaction. Jesus tasted death, so that you might have life. He took darkness, that you might experience light. He took wrath, so that you might receive mercy. He took hell, so that you could enjoy heaven. He endured thirst, so that you could be satisfied.
On the cross God the Father treated Jesus Christ as if he had committed every sin committed by every person who had ever lived. Second Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him." In other words, God the Father treated Jesus like you and I deserve to be treated, so that God could then treat you and I like Jesus deserves to be treated. That is the doctrine of substitution. That is the doctrine of atonement. "I thirst!" iThirst, that's God's app for thirst, and only God has an app for that. Every person has a deep spiritual thirst. You could write "iThirst" over every life.
"Look at that guy, he's so successful. Look at that car and the house that he lives in." iThirst, you could write that over his life, apart from Christ. "Look at her, she's gorgeous. Look at her jewelry.' iThirst. Jesus said to the woman of the well at Samaria, "Drink of this water, you will thirst again." But Jesus said, "I thirst!" iThirst is God's app for your thirst. Just a few months before this event on the cross, this same man Jesus Christ, the God-man, stood in the same city at a Feast of Tabernacles. The Bible tells us that it lasted eight days. And Jesus was in the temple complex when thousands of people were there on the last day, the great day of the feast.
Now here's what you need to know: they would have a ritual where they took a pitcher of water from the pool of Siloam, walked up to the temple, and poured it on the stones of the temple platform, reminding them that God the Father quenched the thirst of their forefathers out in the wilderness. He gave them water out of the rock. And when the water was being poured out, reminded of their forefathers' thirst being abated and quenched, the whole crowd in unison would sing in an antiphonal form Isaiah, chapter 12, "With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation." There was a long silence.
The Bible says on the last day of the feast that water was being poured out, there was a long silence, Jesus cried out, he yelled so everybody could hear, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." What a statement. Now he is saying, "iThirst!" You know what the last invitation in the Bible is in the book of Revelation? "Whoever desires, let him come and take of the water of life freely." Jesus thirsted that we might drink deeply and be satisfied perpetually. What an offer. Are you thirsty? I know you are; every human being is. Come to the Living Water and have a drink. Would you bow your heads, your hearts?
Lord, in many ways it's just too much to even take in, this exchange, this substitution for us. We talk about it and we sing about it and we hear it so often it doesn't always register the way it ought to. But we are reminded of what Jesus knew, of what he said, and of what he did; that he tasted death for every man. And even in his dying he had such confidence in the Father's plan. Even in the midst of suffering he knew that the Scripture must be fulfilled. He had authority in his life. But what an offer he was making to those of us who all thirst, that our thirst could be quenched. Lord, we have taken drinks from so many different wells, and they're fun, but they just don't last, they don't bring satisfaction.
And so iThirst could be our sign, this could be what we're experiencing, still thirsty. And for us to realize that the One who said that, bearing the intensity of the cross, and the humanity of us all, the humility of God, was thirsting for the souls of men and women more than anything else. We're humbled by it, Lord, and we think of that last invitation and of the offer that you would even give today. Because, Jesus, you made an offer, and it's true in our generation as it was then. And it's an invitation; you never force yourself. You don't take out the fire hose and douse us all, you just invite us to come and drink. Thank you for that.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.