Recently, I read a back-and-forth between a couple of famous pastors debating something or another. Having read both responses, a reporter commented on what one pastor was thinking when he wrote it. Another reporter commented that unless the first reporter interviewed the pastor or had developed the power of clairvoyance, she couldn’t comment on what someone was thinking or their motives unless that was revealed.
Unless the Scripture tells us why someone in the Bible said something, we can’t know, with any certainty, what they were thinking or feeling. But, if the Scripture does tell us why someone said it, we should believe what the Scripture says. For example, why did Jesus say, “I thirst” while he was on the cross? There are two reasons. The first reason is found in John 19:28, “…Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” There were many prophesies about the death of Jesus, and one of them was that he would thirst.
The Bible tells us the second reason in those prophecies in Psalm 22:15 and 69:21, describing the physical suffering the Lord Jesus would endure. Jesus thirsted because he was a man. He thirsted because of the amount of blood he lost. He thirsted because of the inhumane treatment he took, being beaten, tortured, and crucified, which caused him to thirst.
If we give any other motive, we are adding to Scripture or making a leap based on a hunch, not on any facts. To give another motive is to say the two motives contained in the Word is wrong or insufficient.
Taking the Scriptural data, what can we infer from this saying? Jesus was truly a man. When people insist on spiritualizing the thirst to mean something else, it misses the point of showing that our Lord Jesus was a man. Gregory of Nazianzus said, “What has not been assumed has not been healed,” if Jesus was not a true man, then we are doomed. You cannot protect the divinity of the Son by downplaying His humanity. It’s dangerous and that way of thinking was the road to many ancient heresies. Steven Wellum said, “The divine Son now subsists and acts in two natures without changing the integrity of either nature, confusing them, or melding them into a divine-human hybrid. The Son’s action in his human nature, then, does not override the limitations of that nature: the Son truly lives, experiences the world, and acts as a man.”
Jesus thirsted because He was a true man. It’s wrong to think that Jesus couldn’t be thirsty on the cross because it has to have some greater, deeper significance. Is not the Lord Jesus dying for sinners enough? Isn’t the Lord of glory, condescending to die an awful death, despising the shame and suffering of the cross not enough? Is it not significant enough for you to know that He who created every drop of water on the earth cried out in thirst for sinners?