Home Page
Grace Baptist Church
Save file: MP3 - WMA - View related sermons Click here

TEXT: John 19:28

SUBJECT: Henry on the Seven Sayings #5

      Tonight, with God’s blessing, we’ll move on in the Puritan study we began several weeks ago.  It’s called Matthew Henry on the Seven Sayings.  Henry was an English pastor and writer, whose commentary we’re using to lead us through the seven words our Lord spoke on the cross.  He might have said far more, of course, but these are the ones we need to hear and to think about.

      Thus far, we’ve looked at four of His sayings.  The first and fourth are directed to God: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  The words are full of suffering and glory: the Son of God forsaken by His Father so that we—enemies of God by nature and choice—would be forgiven by the same Father.

      The second word was spoken to the Penitent Thief.  The man who had lived his whole life in sin—and long served a false Messiah—is now redeemed by the true Messiah.  When the worst sinner cries for mercy, he receives it—and more: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom”.  “Truly I say to you, this day you will be with Me in paradise”.  The believer’s hope is in a kingdom that may be thousands of years in coming—but not only in that kingdom: for to die in faith is to wake up in Christ.  How comforting this is to people steeped in sin—“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!”

      The Lord’s third saying was made up of two parts: He spoke first to His mother and then to His favorite disciple, John.  To Mary, He said, “Behold your son”—that is, from now on, you’re to look to John for your support and care and love him as you loved Me.

To the disciple, He said, “Behold your mother”—that is, you’re to care for her as if you were her first-born son, treat her with love and respect and support her in her old age.  Here we see the Lord thinking of others even when He might have thought only of Himself.  On the worst day of His life, Jesus Christ put the interest of others above His own.  This ought to be admired, but not only that: it ought to be imitated.

      The saying I read a few minutes ago is the shortest of the seven and Henry has the least to say about it.  So before we get to that, let me say a few things myself about the saying, things that I hope will make you know the Lord better and love Him more.


      The most obvious thing to say about the words, “I thirst” is that it proves that the Lord Jesus Christ is a Man.  God is a Spirit; angels are spirits; and, if there is such a thing as ghosts, they too, are spirits.  Being spirits, they are not dependent on material things like fluids.  But men are.  The cry, therefore, bears powerful witness to the Lord’s humanity!

      Being a man, our Lord was subject to the full range of human experience—both the joys and sorrows of being a man.  The sorrows He knew better, of course: He was misunderstood by His parents and rejected by His brothers.  He grew up in a captive nation and on the bottom rung of it.  He probably lost His father at a young age and had to take care of His mother, brothers and sisters, when He Himself was little more than a boy.  When He came of age, He first knew piercing hunger, solitude, and temptation in the wilderness…

…When He came to His own they wanted no part of Him.  When He performed miracles, the people ascribed it to the devil.  When He needed His friends most, they weren’t there for Him.  He died young, a long and disgraceful death.  This is a sampling of His sorrows—and a small sampling at that!

      Angels don’t suffer these things—men do!  The Lord’s acute sufferings show that He is a Man, a Man who understands you, one who’s walked in your shoes, and sympathizes with you in all your pain, fear, and grief.          

      This was hinted at in the Old Testament.  Isaiah said of the Lord,

“In all the afflictions, He was afflicted”.

      The devout Jew believed this, of course, but he had to wonder how it could be true.  How can God—who cannot be touched by wicked men—suffer the same pains that we do?  He never felt the Egyptian whip come down on His back; He never wasted away with hunger or felt the pain of thirst.  The Jew believed in God’s sympathy, but could not understand it.

      But we can, for God added a human nature to His Divine nature and—as a Man—suffered everything we do (and more).  This means we can cry to Him when we hurt and pray when we worry and sigh for Him when we don't know what to say.  And do it all with confidence: for

“He knows our frame”.

      …First hand!

      “I thirst” means our Lord is as human as you are.  And that’s good to know when you hurt.


      The next thing the saying hints at is our Lord’s self-control.  The Lord had been on a cross for almost six hours and this is the first time He asked for anything.  He needed many other things: He needed a break from the pitiless crowd, He needed the company of His friends who said they loved Him, perhaps He even needed a soldier to break His legs and put Him out of His misery.  But He makes no request; He utters no complaint.

      Why?  Because even in death, He practiced self-control.  This rebukes the believer’s who’s always got His hand out or who never gets tired of talking about Himself, His needs, His wants, His problems, and so on.

      It’s right to pour out your heart to God and there is a time to let others know your needs.  But self-pity and whining?  These do not look good on disciples of the Man who didn’t complain.

      These are things Matthew Henry did not say, but I think they’re helpful, and we have the time to say them.  Now, we move on to Henry and what he says about the words, “I thirst”.


Henry starts off with the theology of the words:

“Well might He thirst after all the toil and hurry which He had undergone, and being now, in the agonies of death, ready to expire, purely by the loss of blood and extremity of pain.  The torments of hell are represented by a violent thirst in the complaint of the rich man who begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue.  To that everlasting thirst we had been condemned, had not Christ suffered for us”.      

      Thirst is one of the pains of hell—maybe the worst one.  Did you know that?  The Bible says so.  The rich man Henry refers to, lifts up his eyes and hell and wants only one comfort for himself—a drop of water on his tongue.  Because he’s thirsty.  The prophet described hell as “the pit where there is no water”.  Think about that: no one can live for more than a few days without water.  And what agonizing days they must be!  Think of your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth; think of the dizziness it would induce, the cramps, and other things that must rack the body until the lack of water kills you.  And then think that in hell there won’t be a drop of water.  And that sinners will suffer a growing thirst forever and without relief.           

      It’s a shocking thought, isn’t it?  Yet the punishment fits the crime.  Sinners are offered the water of life.  When they refuse to drink it, it is just for God to revoke the offer and to let them live with the consequences of their choice.

      That is the choice we made too.  By nature we do not want the water of life and have refused it more often than we can say.  God would be perfectly just to cut us off from it forever.

      But He didn’t.  The punishment we deserved, Jesus Christ took for us.  Is hell a dark place?  Then the cross is shrouded in darkness.  Is hell a place without God?  Then from the cross He screams “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Is hell a place without water?  Then on the cross our Lord suffers an extreme thirst.

      Not because He deserved it.  But because you do.  When we say, “Christ died for us”, we don’t mean “for our benefit” (though that’s true).  We mean He died in our place—and suffered everything on the cross that we would have suffered in hell.  Including thirst.

      How thankful we ought to be!  You couldn’t go a week without water, no less an eternity.  Yet you would have thirsted forever if your Savior had not thirsted for you.

      That’s the theology of “I thirst”.  It’s a theology of substitution.  Peter calls it

“The just for the unjust”.

      Isaiah fleshes it out,

“He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed”.


      Finally, the words, “I thirst” fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament.  Note how John mentions this:

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I Thirst'”.

      If he hadn’t put this down for us, we would have probably missed the significance of His saying.  And not just we, but the people who heard Him say it.  By making this allusion to the Old Testament Scriptures, our Lord was telling us that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, in other words, the Messiah!  Henry says,

“He would take care to see the Scripture fulfilled.  Hitherto, all had been accomplished, and he knew it, for this was the thing he had carefully observed all along; and now He called to mind one thing more, which it was the proper season to perform.  By this it appears that He was the Messiah”.

      Many prophecies had already been fulfilled by the Lord—from His birth in Bethlehem (cf. Micah 5:2 to the soldiers gambling for His clothes (Psalm 22:18).  But there’s one Scripture not yet fulfilled.  And with His dying breath it comes to mind and our Lord means to fulfill it too! Nothing left undone!

      What Scripture does it fulfill?

      Directly, it answers Psalm 22:15 which says—in His suffering—Messiah’s

“Tongue clings to His jaw”.

      That’s what happens to you when you’re thirsty.  But though this may be the most obvious fulfillment (the one you find in your Bible references), Henry mentions another.  He says

“Samson, an eminent type of Christ, when he was laying the Philistines heap upon heap, was himself sore athirst (Judges 15:18)”.

      This shows a sharp eye for typology.  Without turning the whole Bible into an allegory, Henry sees that experience of God’s Old Testament people (especially the leaders) often foreshadows our Lord.

      Samson nearly died of thirst while saving God’s people from the enemies.  The Lord suffered the same thirst when He was saving us from enemies worse than the Philistines.

      Without spending too much time on it, other Scriptures came to mind.  Joseph was thrown into a pit where there was no water (cf. Genesis 37:24).  This may look forward to the Lord’s betrayal at the hands of His own family!  Jeremiah was thrown into another waterless hole (cf. Jeremiah 38:6).  Maybe this stands for the Lord’s suffering as the prophet of Israel.  And, speaking of Israel, which is an Old Testament type of Christ, didn’t the nation wander in a wilderness without water to fulfill their destiny?

      Whether all these Scripture fit or not, what’s clear is that our Lord died just as the prophets said He would and that, in fact, we

“Have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph”.

Home Page |
Sermons provided by www.GraceBaptist.ws