By Brooke Holt
Throughout this season of Lent, we have been studying The Crucified Life: Seven Words from the Cross. This week, as we draw closer to Good Friday, we read about the Lord’s distress on the cross: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth” (John 19:28-29). What do these words from Jesus mean for us today?
Two thousand years later, it is easy for us to overlook the agony of Jesus on the cross. But the early Christians would have understood the torment in the Lord’s final hours. Crucifixion was the most painful way to die—a horrific form of torture that would have been traumatic to witness. And even before the humiliating process of crucifixion, Jesus endured beatings, mocking, and scourging.
On the cross, Jesus suffered agony on top of agony. John described the dehydration that gripped the Savior’s earthly body. In his anguish, Jesus cried out, “I thirst” (verse 28). Imagine for a moment what Jesus felt. Nails pierced his hands and feet with physical pain. He was unable to breathe deeply and slowly suffocated from his grotesque position. His body was disfigured in pain as the perfect, sinless lamb of God took the sins of the world upon himself.
On top of extreme physical pain, Jesus ached with the emotional pain of abandonment, rejection, and condemnation. Jesus knew distress. He experienced every kind of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of this world. He experienced the whole range of human emotions. He was tempted by the devil after forty days in the desert. He was mocked by the people he came to save. He was denied by his closest friends. He understands every temptation and distress we will meet.
So when you face dilemmas, do you remember the presence of the Lord? Do you remember that Jesus sees, knows, and understands you? He has compassion for you in every trial. Consider these words from the book of Hebrews:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jesus has sympathy for you. As your brother, he fully understands your pain. But as your High Priest, he also intercedes for you. He can meet you in your pain, minister to you, and lead you to victory.
In his resurrection, Jesus defeated sin, death, and Satan. Take time today to consider the agony of Jesus Christ on the cross. He understands your distress, your pain, and your needs, and he stands ready to intercede and then work on your behalf. Will you look to him? Will you turn to him? Will you receive his compassion, strength, and healing today?
When you doubt that the Lord understands your distress, look to the cross and hear the words of Jesus, “I thirst.” Turn to him and drink deeply from the fountain of living water that will satisfy your soul forever (Jeremiah 17:13; John 4:13–14).
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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