A LENTEN ADVENTURE for 2024: He Chose The Nails - Part 6, The Gift of The Wine-Soaked Sponge

A LENTEN ADVENTURE for 2024: He Chose The Nails - Part 6, The Gift of The Wine-Soaked Sponge

A LENTEN ADVENTURE for 2024 - Saturday March 23


For just a moment, let’s think about the following:

“Why did Jesus live on the earth as long as he did? Couldn’t his life have been much shorter? Why not step into our world just long enough to die for our sins and then leave?  Why not a sinless year or week?  … To experience death, yes – but to put up with life?  To put up with long roads, long days, and short tempers? Why did he do it?  Because he wants you to trust him … Even his final act on earth was intended to win your trust.” (ML)

Let’s read John 19:28-30.

“Jesus. Lips cracked and mouth of cotton. Throat so dry he couldn’t swallow, and voice so hoarse he could scarcely speak.  He is thirsty. To find the last time moisture touched these lips you need to rewind a dozen hours to the meal in the upper room. Since tasting that cup of wine, Jesus has been beaten, spat upon, bruised and cut.  He has been a cross-carrier and sin-bearer, and no liquid has salved his throat.  He is thirsty.” (ML)

Why did Jesus endure thirst?  Why didn’t he do something to avoid it?  Was it because he couldn’t?

Let’s take a look at the following Biblical passages to remember what God had done with water in the past:

In Exodus 14:21,22 we see that He parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel crossed over on dry land.

In Joshua 3:14.16 we see that God parted the Jordan River, and the people of Israel crossed over on dry land.

In Matthew 8:23-27 we see that Jesus calmed a great storm on the sea, and the response of his disciples was: “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

In John 2:1-11 we read about the time Jesus converted the water to wine at the wedding of Cana.  

In Psalm 107:35 we see that God “turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs.”

Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground …”,  speaking of the Holy Spirit and the blessing of God over the life of his people.

So, why did Jesus endure thirst?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at what Jesus experienced here on earth:

According to Matthew 4:2, he experienced hunger after fasting forty days and nights in the desert.  

According to John 4:6, he experienced weariness and thirst at Jacob’s well when he spoke to the Samaritan woman.  

According to John 2:15, he experienced anger when he cleansed the Temple and declared that his Father’s house had become a den of thieves.  

According to John 11.35, he shed tears and experienced sadness and mourning at the death of Lazarus.

According to Mark 14:33, he experienced sadness and anguish at Gethsemane when he was preparing for his passion and crucifixion.  

“And why did he grow thirsty on the cross?  He didn’t have to suffer thirst.  At least, not to the level he did.  Six hours earlier he’d been offered drink, but he refused it.” (ML)

What could the reason be?  Why did Jesus reject the wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15:22-24)  and wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:33-35)?

“Before the nail was pounded, a drink was offered.  Mark says the wine was mixed with myrrh.  Matthew described it as wine mixed with gall.  Both myrrh and gall contain sedative properties that numb the senses.  But Jesus refused them.  He refused to be stupefied by the drugs, opting instead to feel the full force of his suffering.” (ML)

And why would he want to feel and endure all this suffering if he did not have to?

1) Because he knew you would feel them too. 

He knew you would be weary, disturbed, and angry.  He knew you’d be sleepy, grief-stricken, and hungry.  He knew you’d face pain.  If not the pain of the body, the pain of the soul … pain too sharp for any drug.  He knew you’d face thirst.”  (ML)  Jesus wanted to show us that he understands.  He lived what we live, felt what we feel, and suffered what we suffer.  And because he understands, we can come to him.

As Hebrews 4:15,16 affirms: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”

2) Because he was fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy.

John 19:28 and Psalm 69:19-21 declare that Jesus, even in his deepest pain and agony, was conscious of the fulfillment of Scripture. In fact, the fulfillment of Scripture is a recurring theme in the Passion.  Over and over again, the New Testament says, “this happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled”. And why so many references to Scripture? Why did Jesus systematically fulfill the prophecies given centuries previously? Remember that in his life here on earth, he fulfilled 332 different prophecies of the Old Testament. Why, even in his final moments, was Jesus was determined to fulfill the prophecies?  He wanted to convince us that he really is the Messiah.  He wanted us to be able to fully trust him. 

“Don’t we need someone to trust?  And don’t we need someone to trust who is bigger than we are? … A drowning sailor doesn’t’ call on another drowning sailor for help.  A prisoner doesn’t beg another prisoner to set him free. A pauper knows better than to beg from another pauper. He knows he needs someone who is stronger than he is.  Jesus’ message through the wine-soaked sponge is this:  I am that person.  Trust me.”  (ML)

Tomorrow is Sunday again, but it’s a special Sunday.  It’s March 24, Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly.  I invite you to read the entire story in Matthew 21:1-11, in Mark 11:1-11, in Luke 19:28-40 and in John 12:12-19.