They Offered Him Sour Wine?

Author: Sherry Volk
April 03, 2019

Beaten, exhausted, famished, and nailed to a cross. Of all the terrible physical sensations Jesus felt on that final day as a human on Earth, thirst was the one that He finally expressed. And he was offered sour wine? Vinegar?

I confess to having interpreted this passage through a modern-day lens for many years. Offering vinegar to a dying man seems cruel, a final insult. I found myself cringing at the thought of the sting of vinegar dripping on His open wounds, of the lack of refreshment that I imagined from the drink. Wouldn’t water be much more appropriate and compassionate?But closer inspection and a little research shows that the act by one or more Roman soldiers indeed showed some compassion, for the sour wine they carried with them and offered to Christ from a sponge was their “Gatorade,” — often called “posca,” the energy drink of the day. The sip of elixir gave Jesus the energy to utter His final words and move on to glory. 

So I am again reminded that perspective is important. We all adopt perspectives based on our time, our place, and our circumstances. Conclusions based on a singular perspective can be misleading at best. During this season of reflection and renewal, I vow to be more careful to avoid rushing to judgement before doing my research and considering the time, the place, and the circumstances of the act or persons that I am judging. I invite you to join me.

About the Art: This mural on a garage in Wales is attributed to the artist Banksy. Viewed on one side, a child appears to be joyfully experiencing a snowfall. But a wider lens shows the origin of the “flakes” around the corner — a fire producing ashes. 


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