After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
Dehydration is excruciating. We likely only know the out edges of this torment, when our mouths feel like we’ve swallowed a handful of cotton. This was a perpetual complaint of Israel while wandering in the desert, wishing they could be back “home” in Egypt. It was the need of the woman in John 4 that went to the well in the middle of the day. And while Jesus hung on the cross literally dying of asphyxiation, one of his final earthly pains was desperate thirst. But I don’t think Jesus was being exclusively literal. Go deeper. Jesus was certainly physically thirsty, it was that, even though he was the very wellspring of living water, he had poured himself completely out. Throughout Jesus’ life, he realized that our greatest earthly need was for water while our True Greatest Need was for Him, the Living Water:
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
And now he had “run dry,” having given us his entire self, from birth to death. It brings new life to Psalm 22 and 69 that speak of this moment before his death:
Psalm 22:14-18; 69;21
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; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. 69:21 They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
Now with the indwelling Holy Spirit, there is a perpetual spring of living water welling up inside of us, pouring outward from us that will never run dry because of the fount of every blessing that is alive and active inside of us. Paul discovered this, and was empowered by God to “pour” himself out for the blessing of others, empowering us to do the same:
Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.