The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
The account of Jesus’ actual death in John’s Gospel, chapter 19:28-30, is very understated. While most of us would wish to play up a death scene, making it dramatic, with screaming, agony, abandonment, and all manner of blood and guts, John gives us a very tame account. Jesus deliberately makes a statement of his thirst. He does it in order to fulfill Scripture. And he “says” that he is thirsty. He doesn’t groan it or shout it. He is in charge of his actions.
A variety of people like to make a shocking story about the sour wine possibly being a sedative or having been ruined in some way. More likely, it’s the cheap bottle of wine the soldiers had. Sweet wine cost more money. This was the bottle from the convenience store. Some people will observe that a sponge on a stick had sanitary purposes. While this is true, there are any number of reasons someone might have a sponge on a stick at an execution site, including the idea of trying to be kind and humane.
Whatever the situation, when Jesus has had a taste of the sour wine, probably just enough to wet his very dry mouth, he says it is finished and he dies. Again, he reclines his head and he gives up his spirit. The apostle describes Jesus as being entirely in charge of all the events of his death, even the time that he dies.
Jesus said that he was able to lay his life down for others and that he was able to take it up again. This seems to be exactly what he is doing. We do well to consider what other signs of his superiority over death we can find. He shows himself to be the Lord of life.
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