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Good Friday - Sour wine

By Charlie Osewalt | 25 March 2016

Stained Glass window - soldiers passing wine to Jesus on the cross

"Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, ’I’m thirsty.’

A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, ‘It’s done . . . complete.’ Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit." John 19: 28-30

After being scourged and mocked; rejected and betrayed, Jesus is crucified. Hanging for about three hours, He was suffering severe dehydration and His broken flesh, His body was at its end. He asks for a drink by whispering out ‘I’m thirsty.’

And here is the final blow.

The Roman soldiers who are on crucifixion detail have a jar of sour wine—vinegar—standing by the cross because they know that the crucified all thirst. They know they will cry out for a drink. And in the last taste of life they offer the cruelest joke of all: vinegar that can only increase thirst.

Masters of death, Romans soldiers were not just experts in killing the body. They also knew how to kill the spirit. By supplying a bitter taste to His parched dying body, they laughed life away. They deliberately kept standing jars of sour or bad wine to serve the afflicted. Jesus, whose ministry began with the miraculous fine wine at a wedding feast in Cana, ends His life end with the bitter taste of hatred on Golgotha.

But even at His death, Jesus came to serve the finest of wine: He serves forgiveness to all. He knows the Romans and the Jewish priests and Pilate are all spiritually thirsty. Jesus’ last miracle is to forgive all. He offers all living water.

Why?

Jesus loves the thirsty. He experienced deep want on the cross and speaks to those in despair. This is the mission of His life: to die for all so all could live. In one of His last teachings Jesus invites the ‘sheep’ who cared for Him to enter the Kingdom of heaven. They ask,

‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew 25: 37-40

The ‘solemn truth’ is that on this Good Friday, we reflect on His thirst. We can see the sour wine jar; the hardened soldiers; the haters; the vinegar. But He wants us to see Him in the overlooked and ignored, this and every day. Jesus loves the lost; He thirsts for them.

Whom do you see thirsty?

Give water from His jar; share Jesus with someone today.

They thirst.

 

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt

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