I always found it a mystery to read in the bible how Jesus refused to drink wine before the Romans nailed him to the cross. Even more of a mystery to me was to understand Jesus’ intentions when he asked for something to quench his thirst, and he drank sour wine while suffering the torture of the crucifixion.
So why would Jesus refuse one drink and not the other?
Jesus refuses to drink.
The gospel of Mark describes what Jesus had to endure, “And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take” (Mark 15:22-24 ESV throughout).
According to ancient Hebrew custom based on Proverbs 31:6-7, honorable women of Jerusalem would attend executions to provide support to the condemned. The women would administer them wine mixed with myrrh, or wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:33-35) as a way to deaden or numb the senses from the pain of the cross. The mixture was also a natural sedative, putting those who took it to sleep.
Jesus refused to take it, “And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it” (Mark 15:23). Jesus refused because he wanted to experience every single moment appointed to him by the Father (Matthew 26:39) in order to remain the perfect sacrifice for sin (Ephesians 5:2).
What an incredible, selfless act Jesus performed. He took it upon himself to ensure nothing would interfere in his ability to fulfill the scriptures, as written in the Old Testament (Psalms 69:21), and that included enduring the pain of his suffering.
Once he was hanging on the cross, Jesus did drink, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-30).
Jesus did drink, but what many people believe to be vinegar was nothing of the sort. The Romans did not give him vinegar. They gave him sour wine. Sour wine was there to quench the thirst of the soldiers. The cheap beverage was refreshing and contained nothing that would impede Jesus’ capacity to accomplish God’s purpose. In other words, he took the sour wine to remain completely aware of what he was going through and not that he had succumbed to the weaknesses of the flesh.
The ultimate victory belongs to Jesus.
What an awesome testament Jesus left us. He willingly sacrificed himself (1 Corinthians 5:7) as the Lamb of God (John 1:35-36), and with a clear mind, bore the torture for our sins (1 Peter 2:24). He rose three days later (Matthew 28:5-6) and now sits at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34), waiting for that day when he will return with all power and all glory to conquer all nations (Revelation 15:3-4).