Fifth Word


“I thirst” (John 19:28)

It was the custom in Jerusalem to ease the sufferings of those who were crucified, by giving them a draught of drugged wine before the torture began, and a charitable association of women in the city had made themselves responsible for this act of mercy.

Jesus, however, had refused this solace because to have accepted it would have meant fulfilling the last and all important part of his ministry with his faculties dulled and his mind bemused.  “Keep awake and pray that you may not enter into temptation”, had been his command to the drowsy disciples in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:41), and he applied the same stern rule to himself on Calvary.

The contest with Satan had now narrowed down to the final trial of strength between his will and that of the Prince of Darkness, the one holding steadfastly to his Father, the other striving to alienate him.  And Jesus was determined no matter what it cost him in suffering and pain, to have all his faculties alert and sensitive.

More than that.  As he had come into this world knowing full well the price he would have to pay for coming, so now, when the account was presented, he would not shrink from willingly paying it in full.  Thus, by refusing the drugged potion, he declared his willingness to suffer to the uttermost for our sakes, and so proved, without any room for doubt, his surpassing love for us.  “For he had another thirst, the thirst to suffer yet more deeply and to show his love for us more clearly”. (1)

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