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Daily Reading: 15th February 2016

John 19. 28-30 cont.

28 After this, Jesus, Knowing that all things had been accomplished, and that the scripture might be fulfilled said (says): “I am thirsty”. 

29 A jar full of vinegar was there, so they put a sponge full of vinegar on a stalk of hyssop and put it to His mouth. 

30 Therefore, when He took the vinegar Jesus said: “It has been accomplished”, and bowing His head He delivered up His spirit. 

Vinegar was a sour wine that was mixed with water. This was the normal drink of Roman soldiers, and it was this that was offered to Jesus. It was also used as a cheap pain killer. It would seem that Jesus took the vinegar only because He was thirsty. We can imagine that he would not have been offered much, since it was a sponge that was used, which though full of vinegar, would still not have given much relief to His thirst.

John is the only gospel writer to record that the sponge was placed on a branch of hyssop. The word hyssop is only used twice in the New Testament. The other occasion is in Hebrews 9.19-20:

[19] For after Moses had given the people all of God’s laws, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s laws and all the people, using branches of hyssop bushes and scarlet wool.

[20] Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you” – (NLT).

Moses used the branch of hyssop to sprinkle with blood the law and the people, and he said that it was this blood that confirmed God’s covenant with His people.

When God was about to deliver the people of Israel from their bondage of slavery to the Egyptians, He commanded them to dip a branch of hyssop in the blood of a lamb and paint it on their door lintels. Then, as the angel of death passed by he would see the blood and pass over their homes and not kill the eldest child.

Therefore, when John records that a branch of hyssop was used to raise a vinegar soaked sponge to the lips of Jesus he was directing our thoughts to the fact that Jesus is the blood of the New Covenant, and that He is also our Passover Lamb.

The words of this song express something of this:

It’s Your blood that cleanses me It’s Your blood that gives me life It’s Your blood that took my place In redeeming sacrifice and Washes me whiter than the snow, than the snow My Jesus, God’s precious sacrifice.

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