I don’t think they offered it to Jesus out of any sense of compassion, but more out of duty to protocol. It was a pitiful act of mercy incorporated into what was overwhelmingly a vile and cruel form of execution marked by everything but mercy. But, before nailing Him to the cross, according to protocol, the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15:23). It was designed to dull the senses . . . to cloud the mind . . . to so intoxicate the condemned that they became less aware of the pain their body would endure for hours as they hung between heaven and earth. And Jesus refused it. He would not take it.
Jesus would refuse the Roman cup so that He might drink the Father’s cup fully conscious of all that was transpiring around Him and above Him. With a clear mind He could continue to intercede for those He came to save, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). With a clear mind He could welcome into eternal life those who believed even at the last moment — to the thief next to Him He would declare, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Because He did not permit Himself to be in a drunken stupor He could focus on the woman who birthed Him into His earthly existence and care for her — “He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!'” (John 19:26-27). And, as a King not compromised by strong drink (Prov. 31:4-5), with clarity of mind and purpose He led the way to victory as the Lamb of God declaring with all authority, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
They offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but Jesus would not take it. He would, being fully conscious, undertake to do the Father’s will. But as I read in Mark this morning, He would also, with complete clarity, submit Himself fully to His creations’ contempt.
And those who passed by derided Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked Him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with Him also reviled Him. (Mark 15:29-32 ESV)
Derided by those who passed by Him. Mocked by those hated Him. Even reviled by those crucified with Him. And Jesus heard it all . . . clearly. With mind unaffected by any anesthetizing substance, Jesus took it all in. He heard the spitting rhetoric of blasphemy directed toward the One who created all things. He took in the arrogant sarcasm of the religious leaders who played with Him as a cat with a mouse. He was fully aware of those on either side of Him who, in their drunken stupor, somehow blamed Him for their transgressions. Mark records it. Jesus received it. And I pause and reflect on it.
What humiliation was suffered by my Savior that day. What shame He bore. Forget that He had been so physically abused before being crucified. Forget that He had been stripped naked and His clothes gambled away. How low was the Son of Man brought by those He came to rescue and redeem? What humility was suffered in order to be my substitute?
May I never lose the wonder of the depths of suffering endured by the Son of Man on my account. Might I not take of the wine and myrrh offered by this world that in any way lessens my understanding and appreciation of what it means that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I was that crowd that derided Him . . . I was the prideful man who followed the gods of my own making and so mocked Him . . . I was that one condemned to death beside Him who blamed Him.
And while I was all that, Jesus with a clear mind, and with a resolve that had been determined since the foundation of the world, “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2) that I might be redeemed.
To Him be all glory . . . to Him be all praise.
O what a Savior!