“I thirst” (John 19:28). “My tongue cleaveth to my jaws” (Psalm 22:15). Thirst was something which went with death by crucifixion. “The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, especially in hot climates. Severe local inflammation, coupled with an insignificant bleeding of jagged wounds produced traumatic fever, which was aggravated by the exposure to the heat of the sun, the strained position of the body and insufferable thirst (emphasis mine). The wounds swelled about the rough nails and the torn and lacerated tendons and nerves caused excruciating agony. The arteries of the head and stomach were surcharged with blood and a terrific throbbing headache ensued… Tetanus not rarely supervened and the rigors of the attending convulsions would tear at the wounds and add to the burden of pain…” (I.S.B.E., Vol. 2, p. 761).
Jesus was human. Lee Strobel quotes Craig Everns as saying, “How human was Jesus? For a lot… The human side of Jesus is superficial. It is almost as though a lot of Christians think of Jesus as God wearing a mask. He’s sort of faking it, pretending to perspire, his stomach only appear to gurgle… he’s not really hungry. In fact, he doesn’t really need to eat” (The Case for the Real Jesus, p. 61). Jesus wasn’t faking it. He was fully human. He grew tired and weary (John 4:6). He needed sleep (Mark 4:38). He experienced hunger (Matt. 4:2) and thirst (John 4:6-7; 19:2). He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Yes, he was God in the flesh; But, let us not forget that he was in the flesh. He willfully experienced all limitations of being made like us (Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:17). He “emptied” himself (Philippians 2:7 NASB). He gave not up his deity; But he gave up the independent exercise of super-human and/or supernatural divine abilities. While on earth his knowledge was limited (Mark 13:32). The power behind his inspired speech and miraculous workings was not that he was God in the flesh. The source was the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18-19; Matthew 12:26-28; Acts 10:38), the same source of the inspiration and power that was upon the apostles. It was not until after the Holy Spirit came upon him that Jesus is said to know what was within man (John 2:25 cf. 1:47-48), and to begin to work miracles (John 2:11).
Jesus on the cross thirsted. He was first offered wine mingled with myrrh, but upon tasting it he refused to drink (Mark 15:23; Matthew 27:34). Myrrh was bitter. It is called “gall” in Matthew. The mixture was a pain medication commonly offered to those being crucified. Jesus was suffering for humanity. This pain he refused to numb. He later was offered a sponge of vinegar, of this he drank (Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:28-30). There was no indication of this being mixed with any narcotic.
Jesus went through this for us! He was fully human. We should remember this when we feel like giving up: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endures such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:2-4).