The Wine Jesus Drank

Great post that adds insight to the cross from Desiring God:

Twice Jesus was offered wine while on the cross. He refused the first, but took the second. Why so? The majority of people would never refuse the offer of wine from somewhere like Splash Wines on the first invitation, so what made Jesus do so only to then accept on the second offer?

The first time came in verse 23, “they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” William Lane explains,

According to an old tradition, respected women of Jerusalem provided a narcotic drink to those condemned to death in order to decrease their sensitivity to the excruciating pain . . . . When Jesus arrived at Golgotha he was offered . . . wine mixed with myrrh, but he refused it, choosing to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him (The Gospel of Mark, p. 564)

This first wine represented an offer to ease the pain, to opt for a small shortcut—albeit, not a major one in view of the terrible pain of the cross, but a little one nonetheless. But this offer Jesus refused, and in doing so, chose “to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him.”

The second time came in verse 35. After some bystanders thought he was calling for Elijah, “someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.'” Lane comments,

A sour wine vinegar is mentioned in the OT as a refreshing drink (Numbers 6:13; Ruth 2:14), and in Greek and Roman literature as well it is a common beverage appreciated by laborers and soldiers because it relieved thirst more effectively than water and was inexpensive . . . . There are no examples of its use as a hostile gesture. The thought, then, is not of a corrosive vinegar offered as a cruel jest, but of a sour wine of the people. While the words “let us see if Elijah will come” express a doubtful expectation, the offer of the sip of wine was intended to keep Jesus conscious for as long as possible” (Ibid., 573—574).

So the first wine (mixed with myrrh) was designed to dull Jesus’ pain, to keep him from having to endure the cross with full consciousness. This wine he refused.

And the second (sour) wine was given to keep him “conscious for as long as possible,” and thus have the effect of prolonging his pain. This is the wine Jesus drank.

Other condemned criminals would have taken the first (to ease their torment) and passed on the second (so as not to prolong their horrific pain). But Jesus would take no shortcuts on the way to our redemption.

At the cross, he drank the wine of his Father’s wrath down to its very dregs, and he did so for us—that we might enjoy the wine of his Father’s love, join him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and live redeemed forever in the glorious presence of the one who took no shortcuts in saving us.

Subscribe to

Never miss a new post. Subscribe to receive these posts in your inbox and to receive information about new discipleship resources.

You have successfully subscribed. Click here to download your bonus.


  • Becky Dietz says:

    I have never heard this. Amazing.

  • Michael K. says:

    Me neither. Huge revelation.

  • Brandy says:

    That really changes how I looked at the whole wine/cross thing! Woa!

  • Jay Wright says:

    Wow. Is it weird to say that hearing this makes me really proud of Christ? Not proud as in “I’m so proud of you, Isaac, for winning your game.” But I’m just so proud and in awe of Jesus, especially as I learn more and more about him.

  • Michael K. says:

    I don’t think it’s weird at all. I like that sentiment.

  • Amy Wright says:

    Sorry, I was logged in as Jay. He wouldn’t say that. Well, maybe he would. But probably not.

  • dip rippy says:

    The sour wine vinegar being a refreshing drink to keep him awake is something I haven’t heard before. Just to pose a question, does this passage contradict what Jesus said in Mark 14:25, “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”? (New American Standard Bible (©1995))

  • Ashley says:

    Wow, that was powerful! Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *