(In a liturgical calendar, we’re now celebrating the period when the risen Jesus walked among us and gave us our “marching orders” for the coming age. But this thought today has little, if anything, to do with the calendar.)
Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there, and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop and put it to His mouth.
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up the spirit.
— John 19:28-30
The offering of vinegar is mentioned in all four Gospels, but in John, we read that Jesus said He was thirsty.
Thirsty? Jesus? This is the Man who told the woman at the well in Samaria that He was the source of Living Water, and that anyone who drank that water would never be thirsty again.
And now, the source was saying, “I thirst”.
We see two things there: one is that Jesus has come closer and closer to being human. We saw it in Gethsemane, when He asked God to take the “cup” from Him. And it also shows how He was God: He had taken on all the sins of the world – those committed at the time, as well as every sin committed since Adam stood by while his wife bit into the fruit, and every sin that would be committed until Jesus returns – and draining that living water had wrung Him dry. It was almost at that point that He said, “it is finished”.
Because there was one more thing to be done. He called to the world to offer Him something to top Him up again and quench the thirst. And what it offer Him? Vinegar. It can look like water (if it’s white wine vinegar), but don’t take a long, deep drink. It’s wine, that’s become old, sour and useless for quenching thirst. Wine – the representation of His blood – that cannot be drunk.
Isn’t that what religion does to Jesus? Whether it’s the ABC (Anything But Christ) philosophies or the imposition of rituals or taking Scripture out of context to create something that “sounds” holy and righteous but misses what Christ is about, the world, having wrung Jesus dry with its sin, guilt and shame, tries to replace His living water with a cheap, rotten substitute.
And it was only then that Jesus’ work was done. He had poured out His living water on the earth, and it was now proven that nothing the world had to offer could replace it.