Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Thirst

and living water.

John 19:28–30

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Frederick T. Zugibe, in his indispensable 2005 work “The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry” concludes that Jesus died of hypovolemic shock—dehydration and loss of blood.

Zugibe also details how thirst is dominant in crucifixion and that dying of thirst is one of the most horrible ways to die.

Water is so basic to one’s survival that individuals have reacted both inappropriately and violently when deprived of it. Individuals suffering from dehydration can lose all sense of rationality, and survival becomes the all-encompassing mental focus. The agony associated with thirst is clearly portrayed in the article by LeBec (Catholic Medical Guardian, October 1925), who quoted an Arab scribe, al Sujuti, who in 1247 described a young Turk who was crucified in Damascus: “His worst agony was thirst. An eyewitness told me that he looked constantly from side to side imploring someone to give him a little water.” — Zugibe, pp 130–131

And Jesus was thirstier than most. He had just pulled an all-nighter, plus this curious tidbit.

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” — Luke 22:17–18

Jesus didn’t drink at the last supper, which ended up mattering.

Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. — Matthew 27:32

The events of that night dehydrated Jesus—even more than usual for someone being crucified. The all-nighter, the not drinking at the last supper, the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the purple robe (which ripped the blood clots from the scourging off His back) all weakened Him. He couldn’t carry His own cross and then He died quicker than the two thieves crucified with Him.

It was classic understatement when Jesus said, “I thirst!” He was about to die of thirst.


We’re all familiar with the idea of Jesus dying for our sins—and we know it was a painful death.

But it’s useful to ponder the irony that He died of thirst for our sins.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” — John 4:13–14


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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