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Tuesday of Lent 4

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” — John 19:28

The last suffering and indignity which our Lord Jesus endured was not spiritual, but physical. After Christ had quaffed the cup of God’s wrath down to the dregs, there remained one more prophecy to fulfill.

Crucifixion is not an easy death. The blood loss from whipping and the strain on His heart and lungs would have taxed the body. This physical torment is less than the spiritual torture which our Lord endured. Because of this physical and spiritual pain, Christ, in His state of humiliation, thirsted. His parched body craved water. But the lack of daily bread was not the only reason for Christ to cry out.

The last prophecy concerning the crucifixion to be fulfilled was Psalm 69:21: “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” The Gospels speak of sour wine, rather than the vinegar of Psalm 69. This was cheap wine from faulty storage. Vinegar or bad wine was mixed with water and other herbs. This sour wine was popular among Romans soldiers and was a standard ration.

This was the sour wine which last passed Jesus’ lips. One of the soldiers took a sponge, dipped it into the vinegar, attached it to a reed of hyssop, and held it up to the mouth of the Savior. This sour wine was there for the soldiers’ refreshment, but it was cruel to offer our thirsty Lord such a drink. Luke also records that the soldiers mocked Him as they offered the sour wine.

The Son of God patiently endured all the indignities, all the cruelties that were heaped upon Him. Enduring His physical thirst, Christ now gives to His people living water, which becomes a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4).

Lord Jesus, You thirsted for us in order to fulfill the Scriptures. Give us living water through Your Word and Sacraments. Let us profitably read Your passion, so that we might know how this living water was won for us. Amen.

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