Vinegar To Drink

Wine that had turned bitter in the process of becoming vinegar, was the common drink of Roman soldiers. This is why it was readily available by the Roman soldiers who were nearby, observing Jesus on the cross. When Jesus spoke the words, I thirst, this bitter wine was offered to Him on a sponge that was placed at the end of a long pole or spear. Although this wine had turned sour, it still maintained the intoxicating effects that alcohol will cause. The soldiers gave Jesus this wine to torment Him. Even as thirsty as He was, this tortuous concoction would only add to His suffering.

The reason that Jesus refused to drink was not due to its taste. Bitter wine was frequently offered to a dying criminal because it would numb their pain, and allow them some degree of comfort during their crucifixion.

Jesus was dying for all of our sins. Because of this, He wanted to take the full effect of God’s wrath, as He bore the complete penalty that we all deserve. Jesus would not permit His suffering to be diminished, nor His pain numbed. Jesus sought no relief from the vicious torture He endured, because He was taking the fury of God’s wrath that was required to pay our debt. The wages of sin is death and Jesus was dying for every person who would live on the earth.

Jesus bore the full force of God’s judgement because He was not willing that you should have to bear it yourself. This is how much He loves you, and a practical demonstration of how far Jesus was willing to go to cleanse you of all your sins and give you the blessing of eternal life for trusting in His sacrifice.

David wrote that at the crucifixion of the Messiah, He will be given vinegar to drink.

Psalms 69:21 “They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Matthew and Mark Confirms Jesus Fulfillment

Matthew 27:33-34 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.

Mark 15:23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.

The gospel of Matthew describes this as a mixture of wine and gall; Mark describes it as wine and myrrh. There is no discrepancy here; both writers are correct.

The word “gall” in both the Hebrew and Greek languages is translated as “bitter” or “poisonous.”

Hebrew: “ros”
Greek: “chole”

The wine that the Roman soldiers offered Jesus contained a bitter gum resin called myrrh. Wine that has turned bitter in the process of becoming vinegar was the common drink of Roman soldiers because it was cheap and readily available. It was common during a crucifixion that Hebrew women would mix myrrh with wine and give it to the dying as a sedative, to ease their suffering.

Proverbs 31:6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart.

We see confirmation of the use of the word gall as bitterness from an Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah found in Psalms 69:21. David wrote that when the Messiah is given wine at His crucifixion, it will be mixed with gall. The translators could have chosen either gall or myrrh here, in which both mean the same thing: “bitterness.”

At the crucifixion of the Messiah, He will be given wine mixed with gall.

Psalms 69:21 “They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Myrrh is known to have analgesic or pain-relieving effect.
Wine contains alcohol, which can also ease pain.

The effects of mixing the sour wine of the Roman soldiers with the bitter myrrh, acted as a pain killer for those who were dying.

On this first occasion, when the soldiers offered Jesus soured wine with myrrh, He would not drink from it. At this point, Jesus had not completed the full payment that was required for our sins. For this reason, He would allow nothing to diminish His suffering. Jesus would bear the full wrath of God for all of us, and He would do so while fully sober and conscious of every affliction placed upon His body. Had Jesus taken the wine mixed with myrrh, some might have claimed later that He did not take the full punishment that our sins required, and thereby His sacrifice was not compete.

On the second and later occurrence, when Jesus said from the cross, “I thirst;” He knew that “all things were now accomplished.” It was at this point that He accepted the wine mixed with myrrh.

John 19:28-30 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. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Notice that immediately after Jesus received the wine mixture, He dismissed His Spirit and died. There would not have been sufficient time for the effects of wine and myrrh to have diminished any of His suffering on the cross. It is my opinion that this is an important difference between Jesus’ rejection of the wine on the first occasion and His acceptance of the wine on the second occasion. Jesus was fully in control over everything that happened during His crucifixion and death.

John 10:17 …I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.

We learn, in this example, why these Old Testament prophecies are so crucial to our understanding of the events that are described in the New Testament. This chapter speaks of the Messiah being given “gall” and “wine” to drink in anticipation of the Crucifixion. Since myrrh was commonly added to the sour wine that the Roman soldiers drank, it is certain that when Jesus “tasted” the wine that was first offered to Him before He finished His sacrifice, He determined that this mixture was not proper for Him at that point, while still dying for our sins on the cross. He may have tasted it to see if it was water, which He could drink. The fact that He refused the wine with the myrrh and would not drink, is a significant point. Jesus would not diminish His suffering by the effects of the wine and myrrh, while He was bearing the horrors of the cross. He did this so that He could proclaim, from the cross: “It is finished,” our debt for sins has been fully paid.

Why Jesus Did It

There are many who claim that God does not really love people because He allows us to suffer so many perils in our life. They do not consider that the suffering of this present world is not caused by a lack of God’s love, but an abundance of evil men who are committing these terrible acts. We live in a world that has publicly declared—they do not want God to rule over their lives. Countless Millions of people, to this very day; reject, mock, and ignore God’s pleas to be reconciled to Him. Yet, He continues to speak to all of us, throughout every age; and He has demonstrated His love for us by allowing His only Son to suffer and die for our sins. This is so that we might no longer live under the curse of this present world, and so that we might experience the Kingdom that Jesus will bring to earth, in which righteousness and peace will prevail.

If we want to know how much God loves us, all we must do is look to the cross. If we want to know how much God hates sin, all we must do is look at how much Jesus suffered for our sins.

When Jesus had the opportunity to lessen His suffering, He refused. It was the full intensity of God’s judgment for sin that Jesus was seeking to take, for us; so that no person would ever see the wrath of God for their own sins. By Jesus sacrifice on the cross, all judgment has been fully satisfied. Jesus did it all, just because He loves us.