Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. John 19:28-30
Out of the seven last sayings of Jesus before His death, this one is unique. After hanging on the cross for six hours, this statement is the most human of His words.
The soldiers had offered Jesus another drink earlier in the day, wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15:22-23), but He refused it. Myrrh was a narcotic. Considering the gifts the wisemen brought, you would wonder if they’d ever been to a baby shower before (Matthew 2:11). The gifts of the Magi were unusual and symbolic. The soldiers offered the drink not so much to ease Jesus’ pain, but to ease their own.
Jesus didn’t want the wine with myrrh. He didn’t want to be numb to the pain. Jesus chose to suffer for us.
But, then, six hours later, Jesus was thirsty. The soldiers offered the only drink that they had with them, wine vinegar. It wasn’t given out of cruelty. They weren’t making vinaigrette at the foot of the cross. This wine vinegar was a poor man’s drink. They gave Him the drink that they had as unpleasant as it would have been.
The drink was delivered in a sponge on the end of a hyssop branch. This wasn’t just a sponge on a stick. Here on the last day of Passover just prior to the Sabbath, the branch was actually a symbol.
When the angel visited Egypt as the last of the 10 plagues to take the life of every first born son, the Israelites were instructed, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down” (Exodus 12:21-23).
The Israelites’ homes were passed over because of the markings by the blood of the lamb. For us, the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, exempts us from the penalty of spiritual death.
There is really nothing that separates us from the love of God except for willingness to receive His gift. Jesus has made the way. Our place is to follow.