"I thirst." John 19:28
The word of the physical agony, "I thirst." (John 19:28) What can any say concerning that? Is it not rather subject for lonely contemplation and meditation? It is hardly possible to approach it without fearing lest the approach may be that of sacrilegious curiosity. From such we would utterly be delivered, and therefore I do not propose to dwell for a single moment upon the actual physical pain of Jesus. The whole of it surges out in that cry, "I thirst." To know all that was behind those words, rather recall briefly, quietly, and slowly, almost without comment, the facts that had immediately preceded the Cross:
The night watches in Gethsemane.
The flash of the light of the torches upon the darkness of the night.
The kiss of the traitor.
Still in the darkness of night, the arraignment before the high priests.
The hours of waiting, and of tension.
The appearance in the morning before the high priests and the council.
The palace of the Roman governor with that strange interview between Jesus and Pilate, withdrawn from the rabble into some quiet apartment.
The journey from the house of Pilate to the palace of Herod.
The first and final meeting with Herod, the corrupt and the depraved Herod who had so often sought an interview with Him, and had never obtained it until that last hour, Herod who never heard the voice of Jesus, for to his curiosity Christ offered no single word.
The rough handling of Herod's brutal soldiery.
The journey back to Pilate.
The awful scenes through which Pilate strove to save Him, while priests and people clamored for His blood.
The pathway to the Cross.
Hours into which eternities were compressed! Through all in silence He endured the Cross, despising the shame; in silence, with no word of complaint and no word expressive of pain, "as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." (Isa. 53:7) In the hours of darkness, of the three words breathing tender interest and infinite love, one outcry of the spirit, and then, not so much a wail as a smothered sob of pent-up human agony, "I thirst"; the very expression of human agony, dignified, neither complaint nor appeal, but simply the statement, a terrible revelation of such suffering as is beyond explanation.
And now let it be remembered that all this is outward and physical, and human, and is but the symbol of the inward, and spiritual, and Divine. If in loneliness we pass over this pathway, and consider these scenes in regret and tears, we have not then reached the heart of the mystery. Beyond all these stretch the infinitude's of suffering.