It is written:
“My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.” (Psalm 22:15)
The suffering and death of the Messiah-so powerfully described in Psalm 22 a thousand years before the King was even born into this world-was terrible beyond reckoning. Part of that terrible death is referenced in this passage, where the Messiah’s tongue “clings to” His jaw. Here, we are told about the terrible anguish brought on by the pangs of thirst which the crucified experienced.
“When Jesus said, “I thirst” (John 19: 28–30), there is no question that this was a gross underestimation. He had been deprived of liquids since His last meal, which was at the Last Supper, and suffered loss of fluids from excessive sweating, trauma to His chest (pleural effusion), hemorrhage from scourging, nailing of the hands and feet, hematidrosis, etc. 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, el 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.” McGee, an American geologist, who extensively studied the effects of thirst on individuals suffering from extremes of water deprivation in desert areas, distinguished five stages through which one passes on the way to death (as quoted by Dr. J. R. Whittaker in a paper read in 1935 before the St. Luke’s Guild in London). He suggests that in the first stage, there is a dryness of the mouth and throat accompanied by a craving for liquid. This is the common experience of normal thirst, and the condition may be alleviated, as ordinary practice shows, by a moderate quantity of water or by exciting a flow of saliva in some way. In the second stage, the saliva and the mucus in the mouth begin to dry out, and the throat becomes sticky and scanty. There is a feeling of dry deadness of the mucus membranes. Inspired air feels hot, and the tongue clings to the teeth and to the roof of the mouth. A lump seems to rise in the throat and starts endless swallowing motions in an attempt to dislodge it. According to McGee, during the last three stages “the eyelids stiffen over the eyballs set in a sightless stare, the tongue tip hardens to a dull weight and wretched victim has illusions of limpid pools and sparkling streams.”” (Frederick T. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, Completely Revised and Expanded: A Forensic Inquiry, 2073-2091 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); New York, NY; M. Evans and Company, Inc.).
We are told about how just prior to His death, a Roman soldier gave Jesus vinegar.
John 19:28-29-After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 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.
Many believe that this was a compassionate act of the Romans, but the opposite is true. This act was fulfillment of another prophetic Scripture (please notice John makes this clear by telling us “that the Scripture might be fulfilled”). Reference here is to another text in the Psalter:
Psalm 69:21 (CEV)-Enemies poisoned my food, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar.
One researcher has well pointed out:
“Both the thirst and the action in seeking to satisfy it belong to the fulfillment of the Scripture, namely Ps 69: 22: “They gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (The term [ḥomeṣ] was used of vinegar, but the Greek rendering of it ὄξος [oxos] denoted a drink, whether a watered-down vinegar or cheap wine, which was popular among soldiers.) The saying is part of the lengthy description of the desolation, isolation, and scorn experienced by the Righteous Sufferer, and in the psalm the giving of the drink appears to be part of the torment inflicted upon the sufferer.” (George R. Beasley-Murray, John, Volume 36: Revised Edition (Word Biblical Commentary), 351 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
The Romans were well known for doing everything in their power to produce as much suffering as possible for those condemned to crucifixion.
“Simply put, the cross was one of the most vicious, torturous, and effective methods of execution that human depravity has ever devised. The torment of the cross was so extreme that a word was invented to describe it: excruciating, which translates from Latin to describe a pain “from the cross.”…“There was no standard procedure for the crucifixion, as executioners were often given license to express profligate brutality. Victims were at times fixed to the cross in awkward poses, at times nailed through their groins, at times forced to watch the violation of their wives, at times made to witness the slaughter of their whole families, and at times having their slain sons hung around their necks. 13 Crucifixion was not just another means of execution, as there are much more efficient ways to kill. The cross was intended for brutality, and victims were not treated gently.” (Nabeel Qureshi, No God but One: Allah or Jesus? (with Bonus Content): A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity, 165-166 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
How powerfully the Psalmist prophesies of the suffering of the Messiah!
And how powerfully we see His amazing love for sinners through it all.
Galatians 2:20-I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.