It is Thursday afternoon of Passion Week.  Jesus and His disciples had celebrated the Passover the night before, reckoning the fourteenth of the first month a day earlier than the officials in Jerusalem based on their sighting of the new moon, which at times is ambiguous, especially depending upon one’s location.  It was therefore the preparation day for the Passover for the religious leaders, who in God’s sovereignty had Jesus crucified at the exact time they had begun to sacrifice the Passover lambs.  Now, three hours later, at the ninth hour or around three pm, death was about to overtake Him at the very time when the temple sacrifices of Passover lambs would have been in full swing.  A supernatural darkness came over the land during His three hours upon the cross, signifying the spiritual light of the Jewish nation that went down at noon as they were cast into darkness for the rejection of their Messiah.  That darkness was also the appropriate counterpart to the supernatural light that marked His birth, and also marked the harrowing darkness and despair of death that enveloped Jesus as He died.  Nevertheless, corresponding to His faith that even from death God would yet deliver Him, the darkness was even then turning to light, as the light of the gospel of true salvation, not from death, but through death, was now dawning, and passing to the Gentiles as foreshadowed by the Roman soldiers keeping guard over Jesus who at His death proclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Mat 26:54).

The prophet Elijah figured prominently both in the Jewish Passover and in their Messianic expectations as the one who would herald His coming; see Mal 4:5-6.  Since it was then Passover and Jesus was being crucified for claiming to be the Christ, when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”, some misunderstood Him to be calling for Elijah, whose name in Hebrew means My God is Yahweh and so sounds like the words Jesus gasped from the cross.  What does Matthew record happened immediately after this?  See Mat 27:48-49; cf. Mar 15:36.  Although they didn’t see it with their physical eyes, in light of the comments of those at the cross recorded by both Matthew and Mark, is it possible that Elijah, who for some purpose of God didn’t die, was perhaps in some spiritual way involved in God’s saving of Jesus, not from dying, but still from death?  Cf. Luk 9:30-31, 1Ki 17:17-22.

What did John, writing later, note that Jesus also said at that time, that explains why the person raised the sponge of sour wine upon a pole to give Him a drink?  See Joh 19:28-29, and note that the NAS I am thirsty actually translates the very short one word διψῶ in Greek.  What Scripture did Jesus fulfill by being thirsty and then being given sour wine?  See Psa 22:15, 69:21.  What was the spiritual significance of the sour wine He was given to drink?  See Mar 10:38, 14:36, Joh 18:11; cf. Isa 51:17,21-22.  Recall that Jesus had the night before at the Last Supper said He would not drink from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God had come (Luk 22:18), and had earlier, before being raised upon the cross, refused to drink the wine mixed with myrrh that was offered Him to ease His pain upon the cross (Mar 15:23); what does the fact that He now drank from the fruit of the vine, bitter as it was, indicate about how with His suffering and imminent death “all things had already been accomplished” (Joh 19:28), so that with His swallow of sour wine that emptied the cup His Father had given Him to drink, the kingdom of God was no longer just near (Luk 10:9), but had in some sense then come?  Cf. Joh 19:30, and note that the NAS, “It is finished” is the same word used in Joh 19:28 for accomplished; cf. Joh 17:4.  How does this help us to understand what John understood Jesus to mean in saying, “It is finished” just before He died?  What does this teach us about the essential element of Jesus’ death to finishing the work ordained by God for Him to accomplish in order to establish His kingdom?  As followers of Christ, are we as faithful to accomplish the work God has ordained for each one of us to finish, up to and including our death, in order to further His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?  Cf. Mat 28:18-20, Act 2:34-35, Heb 1:13, 10:12-13.

How do both Matthew and Mark say that the sponge full of sour wine was raised to give Jesus a drink while upon the cross?  See Mat 27:48, Mar 15:36.  What additional information does John include about what the sponge was attached to?  See Joh 19:29 and note that the hyssop referred to has not been exactly identified, so it is unclear if it was a branch of hyssop upon which it was raised, since some have identified hyssop with plants like marjoram or thyme that don’t have long, stout branches upon which to mount a sponge; see also 1Ki 4:33 that says hyssop grows on the wall, which would seem to indicate that the plant was too small to have a branch that could be used for a pole.  It is possible then that the hyssop was part of the sponge apparatus that was attached to the reed noted by Matthew and Mark, perhaps to provide some benefit to the victim upon the cross from its possibly aromatic properties.  What is the significance of the hyssop John mentions was present at Jesus’ death, especially on the day of preparation for the Passover?  See Exo 12:22.  See also the several purification rituals symbolic of our cleansing from sin in Lev 14:2-7,49-53, Num 19:1-6; cf. Psa 51:7.  As the hyssop represents the faith acted upon in obedience to secure one’s salvation, what did the blood of the lamb, and the wood of the lintel and doorposts to which it was applied, typify?  Similarly, what did the hyssop that was perhaps tied to the piece of cedar wood with scarlet string, dipped in the blood of the slain bird, and sprinkled on the Leper for his cleansing point to as the means by which God would cleanse us from our sins?  Or again, what did the hyssop, cedar wood, and scarlet material look forward to that were used in the ceremony of the red heifer to make the water of purification (Num 19:17-18) to cleanse those who had been exposed to death?  Have we the hyssop of faith to follow Jesus in the way of the cross to be cleansed from our sins through our own death to self?