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Dr. Luke: Healing the Breaches - Book 8

This is the longest book of the series, 160 pages, covering Luke 22-24. It begins with the Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal and gives the sequence of events from Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and His many appearances to various people during the next 40 days before His ascension.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 17

The Mockers

The next event during the crucifixion shows plainly the meaning of Jesus’ robe not being torn. Luke 23:35-37 says,

35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

They were sneering at the fact that Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua, means “salvation.” They did not understand that only by dying according to the messianic prophecies of Psalm 22 could Jesus actually save others. Even so, the soldiers helped fulfill those prophecies by deciding not to tear His seamless robe. Inadvertently, their actions prophesied in a voice that spoke louder than their own mocking voices.

In addition to the mocking from the chief priests and the soldiers, those who passed by also joined in the mockery. Matt. 27:39, 40 says,

39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

If they had known the meaning of their accusation, they would have seen how specious it was. When Jesus prophesied this, John 2:21 tells, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” They should have waited to the third day to mock Him, for on that day His temple was raised up just as He had prophesied.

John, along with Jesus’ mother, heard this mocking, for they were at the scene. John 19:25- 27 says,

25 Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

There were three Marys near the cross. Jesus’ mother is called the “sister” of the wife of Clopas (or Cleopas), not because they were actual sisters, but because their husbands, Joseph and Cleopas, were brothers. These two Marys were sisters-in-law. Because of Jesus’ request, John took care of Mary from that moment on, although later Church history indicates that this was temporary, for she later traveled to other places, while John and his household settled down in Ephesus.

The First Two Offers of Sour Wine

Jesus was offered more than one kind of wine. The first offer came before Jesus was put on the cross, possibly on the way to Golgotha or shortly after arriving there. The first offer was wine (oinon) mixed with myrrh, which He refused (Mark 15:23). Apparently, the soldiers persisted, offering Jesus a drink laced with opium, for we read in Matt. 27:34,

34 they gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall [opium]; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

This fulfilled the prophecy of another great messianic passage in Psalm 69:21,

21 They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Both myrrh and opium would have been helpful in reducing the pain of crucifixion, so these drinks were actually acts of compassion and had nothing to do with the mocking that occurred later. Even so, Jesus refused to drink either of them.

The Third and Fourth Offers of Sour Wine

The third offer in Luke 23:36 was sour wine (or “vinegar,” as the KJV renders it). It was offered as part of the mockery shortly after Jesus was put on the cross. Luke says nothing of anything mixed with it, nor does he tell us if Jesus actually drank any of it.

The fourth offer of sour wine, or vinegar, came as Jesus was nearing His time of death. He began to quote Psalm 22 from memory, because it was full of prophecies regarding the death of the Messiah. Matt. 27:46 says,

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

This was a quotation from the first verse of Psalm 22, and it was also the title of the psalm itself. Matthew was telling us that Jesus quoted Psalm 22, entitled, “My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” Jesus quoted the whole psalm, not just the first verse. Matt. 27:47 continues,

47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

Some of the “bystanders” (Mark15:35) apparently did not understand Him, because His dry mouth made it difficult to speak. Psalm 22:15 says, “my tongue cleaves to my jaws.” So they thought that Jesus was calling for Elijah to save Him. One of them then took the liberty of offering Jesus some sour wine that the soldiers had with them.

48 And immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”

Jesus finally drank some sour wine from the sponge, allowing Him to quote Psalm 22 aloud and the others to understand. This quotation told everyone what was actually being fulfilled on that day.

The Final Drink

At the end of the quotation, Jesus finally requested a drink. John 19:28-30 says,

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed his head, and gave up His spirit.

This was the fifth offer of wine mentioned in Scripture. John seems to be saying that Jesus did not actually drink anything until He had fulfilled all the prophecies of Psalm 22. In fact, He did not quote the psalm until He had fulfilled those prophecies. He took two drinks, one at the start of the psalm and the second at the end. The first was offered to him on a reed (Matt. 27:48), and the second on a hyssop branch (John 19:29).

Neither of these drinks contained myrrh or opium.

Why Jesus Refused Opium

The Hebrew word for opium is rosh, which literally means “head,” but which refers to the prominent “head” forming the red flower of the poppy plant. Jer. 8:14 (KJV) also mentions “water of gall,” which is the opium-juice extracted from poppies. Deut. 32:32 says,

32 For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison [rosh, “gall, or opium”], their clusters, bitter. 33 Their wine is the venom of serpents, and the deadly poison of cobras.

As I wrote in my book, The Laws of Wormwood and Dung, opium represents bitterness and heart idolatry. Jesus had neither problem. He understood that it was the will of His Father that He should be crucified, and so that painful experience did not cause Him to be bitter either against God or men.

This too is why He did not attempt to save Himself, as the mockers had suggested. He had already told Peter in Matt. 26:53,

53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

So Jesus had no bitterness toward those who were crucifying Him. Neither did He try to lessen the pain by drinking wine mixed with opium. Instead, as Paul wrote later in Phil. 2:8,

8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.