Why was Jesus given vinegar on the cross?


By BibleAsk Team

An Old Testament Prophecy

God in the Old Testament predicted in the book of Psalms that Jesus would be given vinegar at the time of His death: “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:20, 21).  The Messianic fulfillment of this prophecy took place twice:  

The First Offer of Vinegar 

At the beginning of Christ’s crucifixion, the Roman soldiersgave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink” (Matthew 27:34). And Luke adds, “they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it” (Mark 15:23).

Textual evidence for the word “vinegar” prefers the reading oinos, “wine,” instead of oxos. The word oxos was wine turned sour by fermentation (Numbers 6:3).  According to Rabbi Ḥisda (c. A.D. 309), “When one is led out execution, he is given a goblet of wine containing a grain of frankincense, in order to benumb his senses” (Talmud Sanhedrin 43a, Soncino ed., p. 279). The soured wine was intended to work as a painkiller. This tradition was carried out to alleviate the suffering of the person condemned to death. 

But when Jesus had tasted the vinegar, (sour wine) He refused it. He would receive nothing that could cloud His brain. His faith must keep a strong hold upon God. This was His only power. To becloud His senses would give Satan an advantage. 

The Second Offer of Vinegar 

Just before Jesus gives up His last breath, He was again offered vinegar: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink…And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (Matthew 27:34, 46-50). 

The apostle John wrote about this same incident: 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. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:29,30). The sour wine or vinegar didn’t affect Jesus for His suffering on behalf of humanity came to an end. 

Jesus had completed the work His Father had entrusted to Him (John 4:34). And Christ’s victory assured the salvation of man. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 43:4,5).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team 

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