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God’s Word for You

Luke 23:36-37 They came up and offered him their cheap wine

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up and offered him their cheap wine 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Jesus was offered wine to drink three times while on the cross. The first was wine mixed with gall, which he refused after tasting the gall (Matthew 27:34). That drugged wine was evidently offered to dull the pain. This might not have been an act of much mercy. Since crucifixion is a death similar to drowning, the pain-killing effects of wine mixed with gall (or myrrh, Mark 15:23) would not have caused death to come any more quickly, but perhaps more quietly, making the guard’s job easier.

The last offering of wine, not mentioned by Luke, is presented in John 19:28-30. That drink of “cheap wine” (ὄξος, oxos) was offered to Jesus on a sponge when he cried out, “I am thirsty!” It gave him enough of a drink to wet his throat so he could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and pray, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

What we have here in verse 36 took place sometime between, and is clearly a part of the mockery early on in the crucifixion. Caught up by the taunts of the crowd and of the Jewish leaders, the soldiers thought that their cheap wine would be a funny beverage to offer to “the king of the Jews,” especially if they had heard about his first miracle, changing water into kalon oinon, “choice wine” (John 2:10). Their “cheap wine” was oxos (ὄξος). It was the usual thirst-quenching drink of the soldier or workman in the hot climate. Mixed with water, it was popular and commonplace and hit the spot. Since Luke tells us that this second taste of “cheap wine” or wine-vinegar was given to mock him, it is the fulfillment of Psalm 69:21: “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” We might also remember Jeremiah’s words:

  I have become the laughingstock of all my people;
  they mock me in song all day long.
  He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall…
  I remember my affliction and my wandering,
  the wormwood and the gall.
                      (Lamentations 3:14-15,19, cp. Christian Worship 104:2)

Enduring this mockery was a part of Christ’s suffering for the atonement of our sins, that is, his state of humiliation. Christ should have been glorified in the world, but from the very beginning he was made to suffer pain and humiliation. There are essentially four stages of his humiliation:

    1, Conception and birth (his conception and the ensuing pregnancy of his mother is included as part of the sign of Immanuel, Isaiah 7:14).
    2, His childhood education including the incident of Luke 2:41-52.
    3, His life, ministry, and teaching.
    4, His suffering, death, and burial.

As a part of his incarnation, he subjected himself to the law voluntarily. Even his circumcision falls under this voluntary obedience. His was a perfect obedience, never doubting, never questioning, never complaining about the law which he himself had taken part in delivering to Moses on Mount Sinai, for it was “the voice of God” that answered Moses out of the cloud when the trumpet blasts grew louder and louder (Exodus 19:19). For what is the voice of God if not the Word of God (John 1:1)?

So “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). He endured the curse of God with his whole essence, according to both parts of his nature. His was the ministry or service “that brought death” (2 Corinthians 3:7), and he took that death upon himself to rescue mankind from the permanent power of death. He did not come, as the soldiers said in their mocking, to save himself, but to save everyone else, including those very men who mocked him. Today, when we meet unbelievers who would mock him if they saw him, our commission from Jesus is not to point them out and condemned them, but to offer to them the gospel of forgiveness and peace that brings hope and life to all. How will they know that they are redeemed from the curse if we do nothing to share the good news with them? Hiding Easter eggs is a game only for children who already know their Savior. What if a doctor hid his patient’s medicine somewhere in the hospital and didn’t tell them where? That’s what we do when we don’t share the gospel. If we keep the cross and the empty tomb hidden away as secrets in our hearts, we won’t help anyone. We’d be like a servant who buries his mina and does nothing with it (Luke 19:20). Share the gospel. Put the empty tomb on display. Proclaim the cross of Jesus with your life and with your words. Rescue the damned—isn’t this the very reason we have been placed here at this time?

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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