Silence: Our Suffering Saviour Is Speaking!
Reading John Chapter 19 v 26-29
Preached By Ken Humphries,
It’s interesting that John passes over the three hours of darkness surrounding the Cross lasting from noon until three o’clock in the afternoon. Rather he draws our attention to another amazing action and saying from the Cross!
John 19 v 28.
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst"
I say interesting, because what Jesus is doing here is absolutly amazing. In the midst of his deepest hour of suffering, shame and ignominy once again we find Him in his heart and mind searching the Scriptures, ensuring that all Scripture surrounding Himself and the Cross-work were complete. He would honour His father come what may or what must.
The word in our text "fulfilled" is the word in the original teleioo ("consummated"). And as our dear Saviour hangs on that Old Rugged Cross He is observing one after another the fulfilment of the Scriptures that foretold various aspects of His suffering. He had been crucified, and His hands and feet pierced Psalm 22 v 16. His enemies had mocked Him, using the very words of the psalmist Psalm 22 v 8. The soldiers had gambled for His garment Psalm 22 v 18. He had been abandoned by God and had cried out Psalm 22v1.
But here is yet another Scripture that has not yet been fulfilled, the prediction of Psalm 69 v 21. In order that the whole prophetic picture concerning His death would be complete, He cries out, "I thirst."
The people who hanged Christ never accused Him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with the atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting
household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew Him, however, He in no way suggested a milk-and-water person; they objected to Him as a dangerous firebrand. True, He was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before heaven; but He insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites; He referred to King Herod as "that fox"; He went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a "gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"; He insulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple, He showed no proper deference for wealth or social position; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, He displayed a paradoxical humour that affronted serious-minded people, and He retorted by asking disagreeable questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb,-- But He had a "daily beauty in his life that made us ugly," and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.
But beloved, when Jesus cried out "I thirst" He was giving notice to all Heaven, all Hell, and all Humans that He was indeed-----
- The Suffering Son Of Man!
This most surely must have been the deepest and severest time of physical suffering He had ever experienced.
He had suffered such amazing agony in Gethsemane’s Garden! He had suffered in those harrowing hearings before Caiaphas and Annas! He had suffered public humiliation in those mock trials before Pilate and Herod. He had suffered fearsome scourging with a Roman lash! He had a spiked crown pressed upon His head until the blood flowed free! He had been made to carry that heavy cross of wood in an ongoing weakening state! He was eventually laid flat on that same cross of wood and had massive nails pierced through His flesh! He was hung upon that awful Roman gibbet in the heat of the noonday sun and through the three hours of the deepest darkness this world had ever
known. But of all the physical agonies that come to a human body, thirst must surely be the most painful, I am told it is beyond the power of words to describe or explain. Without doubt, Jesus Christ was suffering Physically!
But here is a point worth thinking about from a worthy preacher of the past.
"All thought worth thinking is conceived in the furnace of suffering." Bishop Thomas Carlyle.
God is a Master Artist. And there are aspects of your life and character-good, quality things-he wants others to notice. So without using blatant tricks or obvious gimmicks, God brings the cool, dark contrast of suffering into your life. That contrast, laid up against the golden character of Christ within you, will draw attention . . . to him. Light against darkness. Beauty against affliction. Joy against sorrow. A sweet, patient spirit against pain and disappointment-major contrasts that have a way of attracting notice. You are the canvas on which he paints glorious truths, sharing beauty, and inspiring others. So that people might see him. Joni Eareckson Tada.
You see dear people, what is taking place on this old rugged cross when our dear Saviour cries out "I thirst" among other things is, He is identifying with His dear believing people in all their suffering. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
Have ever you felt like Solomon? Eccl. 2 v 20.
"Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labour in which I had toiled under the sun."
Have you ever been there? Is it worth going on? Whatever I do simply turns back upon me and I feel like crying out, Vanity of Vanities.
Listen beloved, because our dear Saviour has suffered, He knows!
He knows exactly what we are going through. Therefore he says to us "My son give me thine heart" Proverbs 23 v 26. You see it was His heart of love and willing sacrifice to plum the depth of suffering that He might understand our suffering which was given. It’s like deep calling unto deep! The deep of His suffering calling unto the deep of our suffering saying, I know, I understand, I have been there, I am touched with those deep feelings of your infirmities.
The Lord Jesus gave His heart and he says unto us, "give me your heart" If we are to understand Him, to know Him, then we need to give up our hearts to Him because heads don’t make good martyrs.
The Duke of Windsor, then prince of Wales, arranged to visit a hospital in London where some of the sorest wounded and mutilated soldiers in the First Great World War were being treated. The medical superintendent met him and was showing him round. ‘I hear you have in this hospital some of the worst wounded men from the war,’ said the prince. ‘How many altogether?’ On learning that there were 36, the prince asked to be permitted to go round their ward and see them all. He was taken into a ward, and saw badly wounded soldiers all lying as comfortably as it was possible to make them and receiving the very best of attention. He went around the ward stopping at every bed with a cheery word, asking about relatives, wives and families, encouraged them with words of hopefulness and a thank you for their sacrifice. Then, turning to the Medical Officer, he said, ‘Doctor! You told me there were 36 badly wounded men: I have only seen 30 in this ward. Where are the other six?’ ‘Your Highness!’ said the doctor, ‘the others are in such pitiable condition that we thought it well to spare you the pain of visiting them.’ ‘But doctor, I must see them all, every one.’ So they went into another ward where lay five men, terribly wounded and disfigured, some of them blind, some having lost limbs, and all just physical wrecks. The Prince was deeply moved, and showed his affection for every man there. ‘But where is the thirty-sixth man?’ he asked. ‘I must see him also.’ The medical Superintendent, realising that the Prince was not to be put off, led him into a side ward in which lay a young man of nineteen in a dreadful condition—blind, disfigured, maimed—a wreck of a fine physique he had once possessed. The Prince, stooping down, kissed the young man on the forehead, and as he rose, with tears streaming his cheeks, he turned to the doctor and said, ‘Doctor, wounded for me, wounded for me.’ Lady Kinnaird.
Wherever I go I find dear people who are hurting. There is physical pain, emotional pain, matrimonial pain, family pain, financial pain and indeed spiritual pain. But my Lord, the Suffering Son of Man, who cried from the cross ‘I thirst’ has identified Himself with all our suffering, giving us encouragement to call on His name, to keep going on, not to turn back and quit when the way grows tough and weary. You see beloved, through His suffering there is Grace to help. He was wounded for me!
Grace to help you suffer, sacrifice, stand, supplicate, surrender and start again.
Through Christ Jesus there is Grace for every need.
"The grace of God is infinite and eternal. As it had no beginning, so it can have no end, and being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinitude." A. W. Tozer.
"Grace can pardon our ungodliness and justify us with Christ's righteousness; it can put the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us; it can help us when we are down; it can heal us when we are wounded; it can multiply pardons, as we through frailty multiply transgressions." John Bunyan.
"Grace binds you with far stronger cords than the cords of duty or obligation can bind you. Grace is free, but when once you take it, you are bound forever to the Giver and bound to catch the spirit of the Giver. Like produces like. Grace makes you gracious, the Giver makes you give." E. Stanley Jones.
2. The Sanctified Servant Of God!
Why did Jesus say ‘I thirst’? Why, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled!
John 4 v 34.
"My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work."
Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? That the Scriptures might be fulfilled!
Why was Jesus brought into Egypt? That the Scriptures might be fulfilled!
Why did Jesus go to Nazareth? That the Scriptures might be fulfilled!
Why did Jesus do what He did? That the Scriptures might be fulfilled!
Paul reminds us in Philippians 2 v 8.
"And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
The most important thing in the life of Jesus was to know and do the will of His Father. And dear folks, the most important thing in the life of every believer is to know the will of God and do it.
Paul puts it like this in Ephesians 6 v 6-8.
" Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good any man doeth, the same shall receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Now beloved, we need to mark this and mark it well. He is not talking here about running after people because of what they own nor have in the bank in the hope that you as an individual or indeed the church by way of legacy will benefit. He is talking about knowing and doing the will of God for His glory!
Even in the midst of our dear Saviour’s suffering He was doing the will of God from the heart, He was in every respect the Sanctified Servant of God and would obey the will of His Father completely.
Why are you doing the job you are just now? Is it the will of God?
Why are you making those plans just now? Are they the will of God?
Why are you doing that course or studies? Is it the will of God?
Why have you maintained that relationship? Is it the will of God?
Why are you making those changes? Are they the will of God?
Why are you using your money like that? Is it the will of God?
Why are you changing homes? Is it the will of God?
In other words is your life lived in the centre of the will of God?
The hymn writer put it well when he penned----
When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey!
Trust and obey! For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.
"If for one whole day, quietly and determinedly, we were to give ourselves up to the ownership of Jesus and to obeying His orders, we should be amazed at its close to realise all he had packed into that one day."
"No bliss I seek, but to fulfil, In life, in death, thy lovely will;
No succour in my woes I want, Except what thou art pleased to grant.
Our days are numbered-let us spare, Our anxious hearts a needless care;
'Tis thine to number out our days, And ours to give them to thy praise." Madame Guyon.
A visitor at a school for the auditory impaired was writing questions on the blackboard for the children. By and by he wrote this sentence; "Why has God made me to hear and speak, and made you without hearing and speech?" That awful sentence fell upon the little ones like a fierce blow. They sat palsied before that dreadful "Why?" Eventually a little girl rose from her seat, lips trembling, eyes swimming with tears, straight to the blackboard she walked, picked up the chalk, wrote with firm hand these precious words. "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight!" What a reply! It reaches up and lays hold of an eternal truth upon which the maturest believer as well as the youngest child of God may alike securely rest—the truth that God is your Father and all He allows in the life is only to help, never to hurt. Arthur Christopher Bacon.
Our dear Saviour’s suffering on that old rugged cross was of the severest kind and would lead ultimately to death. Humanly speaking, how can anyone fathom that? To think that God the Father would allow His beloved Son to suffer and bleed and die for you and for me, mystery of mysteries!
That amazing action reinforces for us that whatever God allows in our lives is only for our good and His glory.
No chance hath brought this ill to me; ‘Tis God’s own hand, so let it be,
He seeth what I cannot see. There is a need-be for each pain,
And He one day will make it plain that earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
Thou art the workman, I the frame. Lord for the glory of thy name,
Perfect thine image on the same. (Unknown)
Is this how we react in everything we do? What a blessing life would become!
Do we really believe that God is our Father and we are here to do His will?
Beloved, if we do, then the dove of your faith will no longer wander in unrest but will settle down forever in it’s eternal resting place of peace—"Your Father." Yes, there is a cost to doing the Father’s will, but let me tell you dear friend, there is an even greater cost to not doing the Father’s will. For there is always a high cost to low living!
A travelling man came into a hotel to secure a room for the night. Upon being informed that every room in the building had been taken, he was naturally quite perturbed, until a portly gentleman standing nearby kindly offered to share his room with him. The offer was thankfully accepted.
Upon retiring, the portly man knelt and prayed, tenderly mentioning his guest for the night in his petition. In the morning his host informed him that it was his custom to read a portion of the Word of God and pray before taking up the responsibilities of the day. The effect upon the man was moving; a strange feeling came over him; something had been working in his heart all the night. When gently pressed by this stranger to accept the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour, his resistance went down in a heap. A soul had been won for Christ!
But who is this humble ambassador of Christ, who so strikingly resembles a member of President Wilson's cabinet? When business cards were exchanged before parting, to the guest's amazement he read,
"William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State."
Jesus said, "I Thirst" that the Scriptures might be fulfilled and souls saved. What in His will am I doing that the Scriptures might be fulfilled and souls saved?
Resolved: "That all men should live for the glory of God." Resolved second: "That whether others do or not, I will." Jonathan Edwards.
3. The Satisfying Saviour Of Sinners!
When our Suffering Saviour uttered those never to be forgotten words on the cross, "I Thirst", there was much more involved in that utterance than mere physical thirst. We will most certainly miss the full import of His amazing words if we fail to understand their spiritual content.
There can be no doubt at all, in His humanity He did crave refreshment for His body, but as the Holy One His cry goes way beyond the human. You see, because He is also the Holy One there is within Him a deep spiritual thirst for the souls of men and women. This cry reveals for us a strange mixture of both the human and the divine, we must never forget, on that old rugged cross he was the God-Man, and never at any time did He lay aside His deity.
The whole purpose of Christ’s coming to this sin-stained earth was of course that He might rescue sinners from the awful judgement of hell.
Matthew 20 v 28. "Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many"
Mark 2 v 17. "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Luke 19 v 10. "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save the lost."
He had a deep concern about our spiritual welfare; His whole life was given to seek men and women because of their lostness.
As He moves ever closer to the cross Mark reminds us in Chapter 6 v 34.
"And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things."
That compassion never waned and the cross was His final demonstration on earth of that compassion.
There are those ongoing, unbelieving critics of our dear Saviour who maintain that Jesus must be either divine or human. But they only dig a deep pit for themselves. You see a merely human Jesus could not have died as our Lord did. Why, right to the very end He was reaching out to dear souls lost and dying. He prayed for forgiveness for the very crowd that crucified Him, He led the dying thief to faith and belief during those last few breast heaving moments.
On that old rugged cross as Jesus hangs between heaven and earth as though fit for neither we can see clearly the relation of the two natures in Christ.
Dr, Lehman Strauss says:
"In His composite personality the two natures of Christ are so united that it is perfectly correct to say that Jesus thirsted and God thirsted. The Holy Spirit reminds us that Christ’s enemies did not crucify merely a man, but "the Lord of Glory" (1Cor. 2 v 8). The thirst of Deity is the age-long desire in the heart of God to bring men to Himself, and Calvary is the full and final exhibition of His holy compassion." End quote!
Consider Christ’s meeting with the dear woman at the well in John chapter 4. It’s true, He asked her for a drink to quench His thirst, but more than that He had a thirst for this dear lady’s soul. His desire was her Salvation. Listen to His winning words, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldst ask of him, and He would give thee living water" (John 4 v 10). Yes, He stopped at that well for a drink of water, but it was also that He might give to the woman the water of life. He thirsted to deliver her from the thirst of hell.
C.H. Spurgeon tells the following story which occurred in his day.
The sharp shrill cry of "Acqua! Acqua!" constantly pierces the ear of the wanderer in the towns of Italy. The man who thus invites your attention bears on his back a burden of water, and in his hand glasses to hold the cooling liquid. In the streets of London he would find little patronage, but where fountains are few and the days are hot as an oven, he earns a livelihood and supplies a public need. The water-dealer is a poor old man bent sideways by the weight of his daily burden. He is worn out in all but his voice, which is truly startling in its sharpness and distinctness. At our call he stops immediately, glad to drop his burden on the ground, and smiling in prospect of a customer. He washes out a glass for us, fills it with sparkling water, receives payment with manifest gratitude, and trudges away across the square, crying still, "Acqua! Acqua!"
That cry, shrill as it is, has sounded sweetly in the ears of many a thirsty soul, and will for ages yet to come, if throats and thirst survive so long. How forcibly it calls to mind the Saviour’s favourite imagery, in which he compares the grace which he bestows on all who diligently seek it to "living water." And how much that old man is like the faithful preacher of the Word, who, having filled his vessel at the well, wears himself out by continually bearing the burden of the Lord, and crying, "Water! Water!" amid crowds of sinners who must drink or die. Instead of the poor Italian water-bearer, we see before us the man of God, whose voice is heard in the chief places of concourse, proclaiming the divine invitation, "Ho, every one that thirsts, come to the waters!" until he grows grey in the service, and people say, "Surely those aged limbs have need of rest." Yet he does not court rest, but pursues his task of mercy, never laying down his charge till he lays down his body, and never ceasing to work until he ceases to live. End quote!
Dear believer, have you lost your way in this Old World because you have long since ceased to drink deeply from the rock that is Christ? Are you panting for spiritual life, are you fighting for spiritual breath, then the wonderful
Saviour we hear crying "I Thirst" is able to quench your thirst and bring again satisfaction back into your lifestyle.
Dear sinner, that same Saviour says to you, if you thirst, come and drink of the water of life freely and be satisfied for time and eternity! Won’t you come?
O what a Saviour that He died for me! From condemnation He hath made me free;
He that believeth on the Son, saith He, hath everlasting life.