The Abundant Cross

by David Mathis on Thursday, April 03, 2014

Jesus would take no shortcuts on the way to our redemption.

Twice Jesus was offered wine while on the cross. He refused the first, but took the second Why?

The first time is referenced in Mark 15:23, "They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it." William Lane explains, "According to an old tradition, respected women of Jerusalem provided a narcotic drink to those condemned to death in order to decrease their sensitivity to the excruciating pain ... When Jesus arrived at Golgotha, He was offered ... wine mixed with myrrh, but He refused it, choosing to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for Him."

This first wine represented an offer to ease the pain, to opt for a small shortcut — albeit, not a major one in view of the terrible pain of the cross, but a little one nonetheless.

The second offer of wine is extended after some bystanders thought He was calling for Elijah, "Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, 'Let's see if Elijah comes to take Him down!'" (v. 36)

Lane comments, "A sour wine vinegar is mentioned in the Old Testament as a refreshing drink (Numbers 6:3; Ruth 2:14), and in Greek and Roman literature as well it is a common beverage appreciated by laborers and soldiers because it relieved thirst more effectively than water and was inexpensive ... There are no examples of its use as a hostile gesture. The thought, then, is not of a corrosive vinegar offered as a cruel jest, but of a sour wine of the people. Though the words 'Let's see if Elijah comes' express a doubtful expectation, the offer of the sip of wine was intended to keep Jesus conscious for as long as possible."

So the first wine (mixed with myrrh) was designed to dull Jesus' pain, to keep Him from having to endure the cross with full consciousness. He refused that wine.

And the second (sour) wine was given to keep Him "conscious for as long as possible," and thus have the effect of prolonging His pain. This is the wine Jesus drank.

Other condemned criminals would have taken the first to ease their torment and passed on the second so as not to prolong their horrific pain. But Jesus would take no shortcuts on the way to our redemption.

At the cross, He drank the wine of His Father's wrath down to its very dregs, and He did so for us — that we might enjoy the wine of His Father's love, join Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and live redeemed forever in the glorious presence of the One who took no shortcuts in saving us.

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This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.

David Mathis is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in The Twin Cities. He and his wife, Megan, have twin sons and live in Minneapolis, Minn.

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