In Matthew chapter twenty-seven Matthew under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit paints a vivid canvas of the sufferings of Calvary. Bitter indeed were these few days in the life of our Lord. Beginning at the bitterness of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, those who kept company with our Lord in His earthly ministry scant cast a shadow on His road to Calvary…He died alone.
Atop Mount Calvary you see two offerings of vinegar, one in verse thirty-four at the on-set of His sufferings, the other in verse forty-eight, after which the Son of God yielded up the ghost and died. How do we differentiate these in our Bible study?
- Notice the vinegar of the first: Matthew says, They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he head tasted thereof, he would not drink. Why? Why would not the Son of God partake of this vinegar? Mark in his gospel record notes that this vinegar was mingled with myrrh (Mark 15:23). Myrrh or gall was a very bitter ingredient. It was given to the crucified to dull the pains of crucifixion. When Christ, again at the beginning of His sufferings on the cross, tasted of traces of dulling myrrh, He refused to drink. This means that Christ wanted full exposure to the sufferings of the cross. Physically, He felt it all. Christ, our blessed substitute, taking the sinners place, hanging in the sinner’s stead, was not dulled of His pain. He felt all the pain of God’s forsaking. I submit to you that Christ Jesus our Lord was taking our punishment, our hell, our second death. The pain could not be dulled because the pain of those condemned to Hell shall never be dulled. Not one drop of water off of Lazarus’ fingertip was allowed to cool the tormented tongue of the rich man in Luke chapter sixteen because eternity provides no cessation of torment. Christ bore it all.
- Notice, however, the vinegar of the second. Matthew says in verse forty-eight, And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. Barnes said, “This was the common drink of Roman soldiers. It was a light wine, turned sour, and mixed with water. John says in John nineteen twenty-eight to thirty that there was a vessel set full of vinegar, probably for the use of the soldiers who watched his crucifixion. Moments before the Son of God yielded up the ghost, in John nineteen verse thirty saying, It is finished, He drank of that wine, not mingled with myrrh or pain reducer. We learn from verse forty-five that from noon to three in the afternoon there was darkness upon all the earth. This was the time when the sin of all mankind laid upon the Son’s shoulders. As He hung suspended between Heaven and Earth, bearing the shame of Calvary…which was the shame of my sin….the shame of my iniquity, He refused to be tranquilized. But when the sun came back to shining and the Son had paid the sin debt of all mankind in full, He took of that bitter-less vinegar and drank it to signify that He had paid the penalty; the account was settled; God was satisfied!
I am glad, yeah, eternally glad, that our Lord bore all of my penalty, feeling the full furry of the thunderbolts of God’s wrath for sin, so that I could feel the warm embrace of a Holy God satisfied with Jesus and accepting of me in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:6)! Now that’s amazing grace!