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The time had come.  After doing the will of the Father here on earth as it is in heaven to show us how to live, Jesus was now led to Calvary, the Place of the Skull, where He would show us how to die, in order that we might enter into that life that is life indeed; Joh 12:24-26.  It had all happened so quickly: just the night before He had eaten the Passover with His disciples a day before the official celebration, due to an ambiguity in the sighting of the new moon that sometimes occurs.  Just hours earlier they were spending the night in a garden on the Mount of Olives when He was suddenly arrested by a mob led by Judas, whom they never suspected.  While it was still night He was subjected to an inquisition to drum up the charges that would be used to convict Him, and then at the break of day was quickly tried and found guilty of those charges by the ruling Council of the Jews and sentenced to death.  The morning had barely broken when He was delivered up to Pilate, the Roman Procurator, who to his credit found Him not guilty, and made multiple efforts to release Him.  But in the end, to his shame, but like so many politicians before and after him, he succumbed to the political pressure and surrendered Jesus to the will of the people, whom the religious leaders had incited against Him.  On the way to the crucifixion Jesus told some women of Jerusalem following Him as professional mourners not to weep for Him, but for themselves and their children, upon whom the crowd had foolishly called down the guilt for His blood; Mat 27:25, Luk 23:28.

We can imagine the shock of Jesus’ disciples as the word spread, first that He had been arrested in Gethsemane, but then that He had already been condemned to death and was even now at Golgotha.  Though He had repeatedly told them, they simply could not see or remotely imagine how He as the One they had come to believe in as their Savior and Messiah could possibly be put to death: how was that going to work?  But now it was happening.  What does this remind us about how much higher God’s ways are than our ways, how He is able to make a way where there absolutely seems to us to be no way, and therefore our need to have faith in Him even when it seems that all is lost?

After reaching the place of execution, what does Matthew say happened before they actually crucified Him, and what was its prophetic significance?  See Mat 27:34, Psa 69:21.  In what regard is Mark’s account of this event different from Matthew’s?  See Mar 15:23. What is gall, and is myrrh just another name for gall?  Note: gall is technically bile, a bitter digestive juice (hence, the gall bladder); cf. Job 16:13.  By association, it was often used when referring to other things that are bitter in themselves; cf. Pro 5:4, Lam 3:19 in the LXX.  Because things with a bitter taste were known to be toxic, the word also became synonymous with poison, as it is often translated by the NAS; see Deut 29:18, 32:32, Job 20:14, Hos 10:4 (KJV = Hemlock), Act 8:23 (perhaps poison of bitterness; NET bitterly envious).  Wine was also often flavored with myrrh to give it a more agreeable smell and flavor, so it would seem from the two accounts that both were present in the wine—the myrrh being added in order to make the bitterness of the potion more agreeable.

What does Matthew say Jesus did after tasting it?  See Mat 27:34.  Why was He unwilling to drink?  See Mat 26:29, but think too: what was the purpose of the spiked wine?  Cf. Pro 31:6, Lam 3:15, and note that the “gall”, whatever it was, likely had the effect of a narcotic (e.g., opioids are known to be very bitter) that would mercifully render the condemned insensible to the pain he was about to encounter.  As Jesus willingly laid down His life and understood the terrible deaths so many of His followers would face from the hatred of the world, was He therefore unwilling to experience the fullness of those torments Himself so as to be a comfort to them in their sorrows?  Cf. Heb 4:15.  Think too: In what way was the gall they offered Jesus not unlike the poisoned water (literally “water of gall”) that the Lord gives a rebellious people who refuse to accept the truth so that they are no longer cognizant of the truth but believe a lie?  See Jer 8:14, 9:15, 23:15, and cf. 2Th 2:11-12.  Was Jesus willing to partake of any delusion of reality even if it lessened His own sufferings?  How does this help us to better understand why such means of escaping reality are wrong?  Should we be surprised at the rise of drug and alcohol abuse in the physical realm as people have commensurately refused to believe the truth in the spiritual realm?  Instead of trying to escape the reality of our sin and its consequences, shouldn’t we rather accept the truth and allow those sufferings to drive us to the Savior for a real deliverance?  Cf. Jam 5:14-16.

Who should we understand “they” were who gave Jesus the wine mingled with gall and myrrh?  Should we imagine that the Romans, who used crucifixion as a torturous punishment unto death, would also provide a narcotic to thus eliminate the pain they sought to inflict?  Note: according to one tradition, there was a group of women in Jerusalem who as an act of charity would minister to needs of the condemned, including the provision of such a concoction to lessen their suffering in death.  It is therefore possible that it was provided by the same women mentioned by Luke who followed Jesus to the cross weeping and lamenting as part of their ministry.

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