10 April 2009

Sour Wine and Aged Wine Well Refined

This is the first year that I have appreciated the significance of Jesus' thirst on the cross. Like other events or occurrences during His Passion, He says "I thirst" in order to fulfill the Scripture. Yet is the fulfilling of the Scriptures merely in His doing what the Psalmist predicts (Ps 69:21)?

Reading on, Jesus is given a sponge with sour wine, held up to him on a branch of hyssop.

Reading on still further, when He is pierced in the side, water and blood pour from the wound, which St. John tells us testify to us in the water and blood which we receive in the Church, that is, in baptism and the wine of the Holy Communion.

Jesus gives us His blood for wine. This is the aged, refined wine of the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 25:6-9). But what is the wine he drinks? Mere vinegar?

Not mere vinegar. It is the vinegar of the world's sin. The fruit of this creation which has been corrupted can never be true, refined, aged wine, but wine gone bad, wine that never suffices as wine because the world cannot bring forth pure fruits. The world produces mere vinegar.

Vinegar, then, is what Jesus drinks. We drink life and salvation in the wine, the blood that He gives us. He drinks the sour wine of our sin, the blood of death. Drinking it down, he destroys our sin on the cross.

The hyssop, also, is significant, for the Psalmist cries out elsewhere, "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The hyssop which covered the doorposts and lintel, protecting us from the destroyer, now applies the poison and gall to Our Lord. By this hyssop also we are made pure and cleansed, while Christ takes the impurity and poison of sin to himself.

Thus the Scriptures are fulfilled, not simply because He does what the Psalmist predicts, but because in drinking in our sin of sour wine by the branch of hyssop, he takes sin upon Himself and destroys it in His suffering and death.


Christopher Gillespie said...

Rev. Grobien,

Thank you for this meditation. At this evening's service, Pr. remarked similarly about the significance of the recorded details in John's Passion. His expostion treated blood and water fully. He remarked to this effect in his introduction: The Holy Spirit intended the details for our edification and learning.

Mere prophetic fulfillment is important, yes, but not as substantial as your exposition. Thank you.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The prophecies of the Old Testament are not merely predictive - but they are descriptive of what Christ does. They describe what He does so we might recognize Him, but they also describe and explain the meaning and impact of what the Christ does. Indeed, the vinegar shows that is the promised Messiah, but it also shows who He is (highlights His human nature) and what He does (taking up the bitter cup which the Father prepares for Him for our sake).

Scripture is so much fuller than we often give it credit for.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Very nice, and well said, Brother Grobien. You've nailed it, I think.

Another aspect of our Lord's thirsting, which fits and coincides with your point, but takes up another aspect of the refreshment He shares with us: That is, the outpouring of His Holy Spirit as the Living Water, which, if ever one drinks of it, he shall never thirst again. Our Lord gives up His Spirit in death, in order that we may receive Him in our reconciliation with God.