John 19:28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Throughout John’s gospel Jesus has been focussed on doing God’s will and completing his mission (eg Jn 4:34; 17:4). Jesus has been sent for a purpose and now it is complete— finished. Yes, substitutionary atonement is won at this point of death but Jesus is focussed on completing everything written in the scriptures.
Jesus’ thirst is not a random detail included in the text for no reason. Certainly it reminds us of Jesus’ humanity and the drawn out suffering of crucifixion. But John says that Jesus’ thirst is significant because it points to the fulfilment of Scripture. Our attention is drawn to Psalm 69:21, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” This is not a simplistic ‘proof-text’ but rather John is telling us that Jesus fulfils all that Psalm 69 was about. Jesus is the true David, the Representative Head of Israel, whose zeal for God and his righteousness ‘consumes him’ like a sacrifice (cf Jn 2:17). And yet, even in the midst of apparent abandonment and failure, God is the one who vindicates his beloved. Ultimately, God delivers the needy and all see his salvation (Ps 69:29-36).
And so, just prior to his death, Jesus declares that all is ‘done’. Salvation is won. The simplicity of this truth brings profound assurance to the Christian believer. Personal efforts, successes and godliness do not contribute to or embellish our salvation. Instead, we look back upon Jesus’ work completed on the cross and know that salvation is not so much a matter of ‘what I do’ but of ‘what he has done’. It is finished.
Lord Jesus, your self-giving sacrifice is complete. You have done it once, completely, and sufficiently for all. Please let this truth utterly transform my conscience, my will and my motivations so that grace determines all that I do. Amen.