Monday, May 12, 2014

“A Cry of Deliverance” (John 19:28-29)

S-1423 5MIL/3A 4/02/2014 Hymns: (O) #149 vv 1-2; S #184; (C) #149 vv 3-4

Texts: Psalm 69:13-21; Isaiah 55:1-3; Revelation 21:5-7; John 19:28-30

Theme: A Cry of Deliverance” (John 19:28-29)

Question: “When was the last time you cried out to God to help you?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text is from the Gospel lesson “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).


Close your eyes for just a few moments please. It is pitch black in the middle of the afternoon. The Man is hanging on the tree. Breathing is labored. Eyes swollen. Lips are cracked. Blood is pouring down and gawkers are standing by. Every nerve is crying out for freedom from the pain. The anguish and agony are overwhelming. But don’t forget this is not just a Man hanging on a cross; it is also God on the cross. (Open your eyes).

The Son of God and Son of Man is on the cross to taste the bitter wrath for the sins of all of humanity. The Prophet, the Miracle worker, the Teacher and the long expected Messiah has been condemned to die. The Lord of Creation is enduring hell on behalf of His creation. The Rabbi from Galilee is about to die. The time is approaching and the devil is laughing and counting the seconds.

In heaven the angels are weeping. They are waiting for the command from God the Father to send them to bring about deliverance to the Man on the cross. But there is no movement, no command; just total silence. They can’t understand it. God is always willing to bring about deliverance; but not today. God is always willing to listen to His children’s cries; but not today. God always rushes to bring help and hope; but not today. Today the battle rages and death will commence. And God will be dead.

We often think of God as the mighty One who can do all things and He does. But tonight we see another side of God that we often don’t think about, though we teach it and confess that He is both God and Man. 100% Divine and 100% human. But somehow we forget that He is human. We forget that at times in His earthly pilgrimage He was tired, so He rested while the disciples went on to get food for Him (John 4). We know that He was so exhausted that He fell asleep in the boat while the storm was raging (Matthew 8). We know He got angry when they turned the Temple into a market place, and that with His fists He drove them out of the Temple (Matthew 21). PAUSE.

We want to thank Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for these pictures of Jesus’ humanity. These pictures help us understand that our God is not One who is distant or uncaring that doesn’t know what we experience. On the contrary these images remind us that He is truly God in the flesh. John put it this way, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). Don’t forget that. He is Human. He had flesh and felt hunger, pain, thirst, temptations, anger and everything you and I experience.

So when we go to Him with our needs He understands. He knows when we tell Him we would like another day between Saturday and Sunday to get things done. He knows your anguish when you pray to Him in the hospital on behalf of the one you love. He knows your deepest sorrow and deepest hurt. He rejoices when you come to Him confessing your sins.

But we are thankful mostly to John for painting this picture of Christ’s humanity with the text for our meditation this evening. John put it this way: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst!” That’s not the Messiah who is thirsty. That’s the carpenter from Nazareth. And those words are human words in the midst of the Divine.

Yes, the carpenter is thirsty. The Teacher is tired. The Rabbi is in anguish and agony. The Lord is dying and He is crying for deliverance. He withstood the 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness without water; He endured the weight of it all in the Garden of Gethsemane; He took the abandonment of His closest friends; He suffered the mockery and shame by those who egged Him on; and He outlasted the lashes of the soldiers. But tonight in the midst of darkness—His tongue is stuck to the top of His mouth and He wants deliverance. PAUSE.

You can hear the cry can’t you? This is no ordinary cry but a cry of deliverance. Deliverance from the raging thirst that the fever brought and the torment experienced on the cross. His lips were parched and dry; His mouth was like an oven, His tongue, like a fire-brand. Most literally could He say, in the words of the psalmist: I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within My breast; My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue sticks to My jaws” (Ps. 22:14-15). “They gave Me poison for food, and for My thirst they gave Me sour wine to drink” (Ps. 69:21). These words spoken 1000 years before Christ by David evidently has reference to fulfill the Scripture as Jesus stated, “I thirst.”

But these words of Jesus, “I THIRST!” have also a deeper and spiritual meaning. Jesus on the cross was suffering from a thirst that is even greater than physical thirst. He thirsted for the restoration of communion with His Father, for the return of God’s favor and the smile of His countenance upon Him, who for a while had forsaken Him. Now Jesus could say, in the words of Psalm 42, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, or the living God” (1-2). And again, from Psalm 63 “O God, You are My God; earnestly I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary, beholding Your power and glory” (1-2).

But there is more, Jesus’ thirst is not only to be reunited with His Father, but He was thirsty for our salvation. He thirsted for the salvation of the world, as He endured these afflictions to bring about with great joy of knowing He has finished His mission of redeeming mankind. It was a thirst for the salvation of souls, for your soul and for mine. That burning desire is what moved Him to endure all that suffering for you and me; so that you and I will never be thirsty again.

In this act on Calvary’s cross we see the fulfillment of Scripture and the irony around the ministry of Christ. In the beginning of His ministry He turned water into wine—sweet wine, but at the end of His ministry He is offered sour wine. He does this for you.

The Cry of Deliverance is not only for Him, but for you and me so that we might be delivered forever from all suffering. No wonder we rejoice when we are offered the cup of blessing to drink to eternal life. So in your thirst, come to the fountain and drink abundantly and freely, because Jesus has delivered you now and always. Amen.

Now the peace…


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