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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Jesus and Wine > The Cross   


Twice Jesus was offered something to drink while on the cross. First, He was offered a mixture of “sour wine (oinos) mingled with gall” (Matt. 27:34), and later “sour wine” (oxos) on a sponge (Matt. 27:48). The point is that both words, with a slight distinction, refer to drinks that were wines. Oinos is a more general word (see: The Wedding in Cana), while oxos is a more specific word.

Oxos appears seven times in the Greek New Testament, always in connection with the crucifixion, and is translated “vinegar” in the AV, “sour wine” in the ESV and NKJV, and “wine vinegar” in the NIV. It was made by water poured on the grape skins and stalks after the juice had been pressed out; the liquid then fermented, producing “vinegar” or “sour wine.” It was not the initial or primary wine, but a secondary wine. It was a cheap wine, used by laborers and soldiers to reduce thirst. Usually it was diluted with water to make it drinkable.

Initially, the wine (oinos) was given with myrrh and gall. Myrrh was a primitive form of painkiller, and gall is a bitter herb. Overall, the drink would lessen the suffering. Some feel this was a drink prepared by the women of Jerusalem, based upon the admonition in Proverbs 31:6-7, to assist in alleviating the suffering of those being crucified.

Jesus tasted this mixture and refused it, either because of the bitter taste or because He did not desire to lessen His suffering on the cross as the believer’s Substitute. Most likely, He did not take the wine in order that He might experience the death in all of its fullness. On the cross the prophecy of Psalm 69:21 was fulfilled.

After saying, “I thirst” (Jo. 19:28), Jesus was offered “sour wine (oxos) by itself (Matt. 27:48). A sponge filled with wine was placed on a hyssop stick and raised to His mouth; He received it. According to Psalm 22:15 His thirst was intense. When Jesus received this second drink, he said: “It is finished!” This is certainly the cry “with a loud voice” mentioned in other passages (Matt. 27:50; Mk. 15:37; Lu. 23:46) that Jesus uttered just before He died. It was life the cry of a “man who shouts because of wine” (Ps. 78:65). The wine rejuvenated Jesus sufficiently for Him to proclaim victory. Jesus preached the Gospel after drinking wine!

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