Holy Week Reflections: Friday – Sponge & Wine Vinegar

And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”
Mark 15:36-37

In Mark’s gospel account we don’t know who runs to fill a sponge with sour wine. Is it an act of compassion or is it a further insult to add to Jesus’ injury? 

In John’s Gospel, we assume it is the soldiers who run to give him wine. Sour wine was the rough watered down wine that the soldiers would have drunk and had with them. But again, we don’t know whether this is an act of compassion or not. 

Elijah was seen in Jewish tradition and prophecy, as the precursor to the Messiah. This is suggested in Malachi 4:5-6 

“Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.” 

Thus, when we hear talk of Elijah at the crucifixion it points to a mishearing perhaps of the words Jesus cries out, or a wrestling with his identity. Surely, the bystander’s question, we need Elijah to restore things before we can accept Jesus as the Messiah? Yet perhaps it is John the Baptist who is the true Elijah, who has already pointed towards Jesus as the Lamb of God. Elijah was seen as rescuer in Jewish tradition. Who could rescue Jesus from this moment? 

Take time to ponder these questions. 

  • Where are we able to offer compassion to those in distress? 
  • Who do we look towards as a rescuer in our challenges? 
  • How might we offer help to others in their challenges? 
  • What does it mean to us to recognise the suffering Jesus endured on the cross?
  • Do we feel that God understands the challenges and suffering we face? 
  • Pray for those who suffer today. Ask God to provide for them.
  • Sit with your own challenges and suffering in the quiet and stillness of God’s presence. What is he offering you today?

– Jo Neary