Nothing Left to Chance: Mark 15:21-24

Focus Passage: Mark 15:21-24 (NCV)

21 A man named Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was coming from the fields to the city. The soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross for Jesus. 22 They led Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means the Place of the Skull. 23 The soldiers tried to give Jesus wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but he refused. 24 The soldiers crucified Jesus and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing lots to decide what each soldier would get.

Read Mark 15:21-24 in context and/or in other translations on!

While Jesus was hanging on the cross, Matthew and Mark describe how Jesus refused a drink offered to Him by the soldiers. Part of me wonders if the wine and myrrh was to help deaden the pain of the cross, or if it was given to help prolong the life of the one being crucified. Perhaps it could have been given as a way of dulling the mind of the person being crucified, which may have resulted in them not having a filter on their last words while alive.

All of these ideas might be accurate, but it is interesting that both of these gospel writers include Jesus refusing to drink it. Mark describes in his gospel that “The soldiers tried to give Jesus wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but he refused.” (v. 23)

Matthew’s gospel says something similar, but he is a little more descriptive: “The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. He tasted the wine but refused to drink it.” (Matthew 27:34)

I am curious if Jesus refused this drink because He wanted His mind to be clear for the duration of His death. I wonder if Jesus knew that there was still more to do. Even in His last hours alive, Jesus may have known that there was one more person who would turn to Him – and it would be one of the least likely people possible: a thief being crucified next to Him.

I also wonder if Jesus refused to drink as a way of fulfilling His dedication to God – similar to the vow of a Nazarite in the Old Testament. While Jesus associated with people who drank, He had a reputation for socializing with those who did, and He turned water into wine early on in His ministry, we don’t see any direct record of Him drinking wine or vinegar-based drinks. The juice at the last supper that symbolized His blood is about the closest reference I can think of which would describe Jesus drinking. I wonder if Jesus had dedicated Himself to God in a similar way to how a Nazarite would have in the Old Testament – or if Jesus’ life was a fulfillment in some way of the Nazarite vows those in the Old Testament took.

The last thing I wonder is whether Jesus wanted us to know He was in as sane of a state of mind as one could be during an event like this. If Jesus had taken a drink, we might wonder if what He said to the thief or to anyone at any point during His time on the cross was really Him talking, or some type of alcoholic delusion. By refusing to drink what was offered, we can believe the words Jesus said while on the cross.

I may have to wait until heaven to get all these questions answered, but one thing I do realize in this decision not to drink is this: Even in death, Jesus was very intentional about the choices and decisions He made. Nothing was left to chance, and nothing happened that was not part of God’s great plan of salvation!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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