Did Jesus Drink the Wine Mixture?
Question: John 19:29-30 tell us that Jesus received the drink that was offered to Him while on the cross. "Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, it is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23 say that Jesus refused this drink. Is there a contradiction?
Answer: There is no contradiction. It should be remembered that Jesus was alive on Calvary’s cross for some six hours. A lot can transpire in six hours. Jesus was offered drink while He was on the cross on at least two, perhaps three, separate occasions. Furthermore, Matthew 27:34 says that drink was mixed with gall, that is, something that was bitter. Mark 15:23 tells us that it was myrrh, which is a narcotic.
The ancient Jews followed a practice, based on Proverbs 31:6, of administering pain-deadening medication mixed with wine. Proverbs 31:6 says, "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts." This is what Jesus refused, according to Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23.
Question: Does that mean that people should not receive any kind of anesthesia, or pain killer?
Answer: No, I don’t believe so. I think that would be forcing a meaning into the passage that is not there. This passage is dealing with Jesus on the cross. Only He could suffer for the sins of the world. He refused this pain-deadening drink because He wanted to be fully aware of the penalty and weight of sin, and wanted to completely satisfy the wrath of God in our place.
Jesus would not receive the wine that was mixed with gall—the "pain killer." But the passage in John 19:29-30 is speaking about another drink. What He received in John 19:29-30 was vinegar. No gall, or narcotic, is mentioned. There are two separate drinks on two separate occasions during our Lord’s passion on the cross. There is no contradiction between John and the Synoptic Gospels.
Question: So you are saying that Jesus refused to drink the sour wine, or vinegar, mixed with myrrh because that was a narcotic, but that He did drink the vinegar alone, which would not have dulled His senses.
Answer: Yes, that’s a good summary. I think both Matthew and Mark are describing the same incident. Jesus refused the narcotic drink. Luke doesn’t give us enough information to know precisely which incident he is referring to. John references Jesus actually drinking what was offered Him. He had been on the cross for several hours. Suffering from the scourgings, and the loss of blood, He was thirsty. But the drink that John refers to was not a narcotic.