The gospel accounts record that Jesus was offered wine just before His crucifixion, but He refused it. “They gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink” (Matt. 27:34). “Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it” (Mk. 15:23). This was an offer of an anesthetic, an offer to relieve some of the pain of crucifixion. In both Matthew and Mark, the very next verse says that they crucified Him.
And if you think about it, this is a wonderful part of the gospel. Jesus not only endured betrayal, and false accusation. Not only did He endure the shame of an unjust verdict and penalty, as well as the mockery and derision of the crowds. He also endured the full brunt of the pain of crucifixion. He didn’t blunt the pain at all. Wouldn’t it have been enough for him to have died for our sins? Wouldn’t it have been enough for Him to be nailed to a cross and mocked and jeered? No, the full curse that needed to be faced, the full fury of God’s wrath for our sin needed to be faced fully alert, fully awake, fully conscious.
But the gospel accounts also record that Jesus did eventually receive a little wine on the cross. They say, “He received some sour wine on a sponge, and then He cried out, ‘it is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (Jn. 19:29-30, cf. Mk. 15:36, Mt. 27:48-50). In other words, Jesus refused wine until He had finished His work. He refused wine until He had accomplished His mission. He refused wine until our penalty had been completely paid.
And that is the cup that He offers us here. This is not wine for anesthesia. This is not wine for dulling the pain. Jesus refused that cup, and so it isn’t that cup He offers us here. No, this is the cup of victory, the cup of mission accomplished, the cup that proclaims, “it is finished.” What is finished? All your sins are washed away. What is finished? All your striving, trying to fix yourself, trying to earn God’s favor or prove yourself to other people. What is finished? All the darkness, death, pain, betrayal, injustice, evil.
This is the grace of the cross. Do you need it? Then come and welcome to Jesus Christ.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
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