Does Jesus's change in attitude about drinking wine on the cross relate to his statement ‘It is finished’?

According to some historians, it was a merciful Jewish practice to give to those led to execution a draught of strong wine mixed with myrrh so as to deaden consciousness. In Mathew 27:34 this wine was offered to Jesus on the cross, but he ‘refused it.’ Later on Mathew 27:49 someone offered wine again and Jesus appears to have taken it. Then Jesus died.

Even more descriptive is the account as recorded by John 19:28

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Why would Jesus at first refuse the comfort of alcohol, and then later not refuse it? Does this mark something very significant? Is there a relationship between him saying ‘It is finished’ and his decision to drink a bit of alcohol after his work was done?

  • I don't see a section to directly respond to a given answer as I have seen done on other questions I have read on this site. Anyways, I don't agree with the hypothesis (for nobody but God and Jesus could give a completely 100% accurate testimony as the reasons behind this scene) because the atonement work of Jesus was supposed to be His sacrifice - or to put it another way, His death! His work could therefore not be completed until after He passed away.
    – RoLaAus
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 1:52
  • @RoLaAus - I understand the objection but these things all occur moments apart, so are basically the same event. What I argue in the answer is that this absorbing contradiction in the Lord's behaviour indicates the main point. His death was primarily NOT physical but when he had died for sin, in its deeper sense...then his body also died phyically. Both deaths go tegether with this momentray pause for us to distinguish them. Thre seems to be no other explanation for the contradictary behaviour.
    – Mike
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 3:20
  • This is an interesting theological question, and you're provided an interesting (if completely unsupported) theological answer. It's too late to migrate this question to Christianity.SE, but if you're looking for opinions other than these, you may repost there. Vote to close.
    – Schuh
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 21:53

5 Answers 5


I do not see much textual evidence, in most translations, suggesting that Yeshua actually drank the second drink offered(except in the NASB and possibly a handful of other translations)... It seems to be a common assumption people make when reading these verses...

In Matthew 26:29(NASB) Yeshua said: "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

So, I find it possible (even rather likely) that Yeshua also refused to drink the second time the fruit of the vine was offered to Him, in order to fulfill His own promise.

It may be a translation error leading people to think that He drank the second time it was offered, since scripture cannot contradict itself.

  • Good for you for using the scripture to determine your opinion.
    – Daisy
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:07
  • The Kingdom of God found its cruciform consummation in the final words "It is finished." Jesus took the cup, that was not mixed with gall or myrrh, as a sacrificial gift from those down below. In Greek tradition, wine libations (wine mixed with honey) were offered to Zeus. Jesus out of humility took common "sour" wine to drink at the cross. But the best is yet to come at the wedding feast of the Lamb. For the finest in meats and wine will be served at that time.
    – Jess
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 19:28

Why would Jesus at first refuse the comfort of alcohol, and then later not refuse it?

Three considerations: was it alcohol; was it comforting; did he refuse it?

"Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 'Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down,' he said." (Mark 15:36, NIV)

"Immediately, one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. (Matthew 27:48, NIV)

Was it alcohol?

In Mark 15:23 and Matthew 27:34, the first occurrence where he was given a drink, the word is "oinos" (Strong G3630, "wine"). Mark has the wine mixed with myrrh, Matthew has the wine mixed with gall. In Mark 15:36 and Matthew 27:48, the second occurrence where he was given a drink, the word is "oxos" (Strong G3690, "the mixture of sour wine or vinegar and water which the Roman soldiers were accustomed to drink). Roman soldiers, not Judeans.

If you still believe he drank alcohol -if the myrrh and gall were placed on the hyssop plant and the hyssop was placed on the reed and the chemical qualities mixed with the "oxos" and created alcohol- I'll go along with that. Let's say it turned into sangria.

Was it comforting?

We have no reason to believe the drink was comforting because the text never says or implies that he drank it or that it was comforting. It was not given to a man in a bar; it was given to a man dying on a cross, from a bully mocking him (Mark 15:36). Luke 26:36 also makes this clear: "And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, offering him vinegar."

I'm missing the part that sounds comforting.

Did he refuse it?

In the first occurrence, the text says that he refused the wine ("oinos"). In the second occurrence, the text does not say that he took it; it only says it was given.

The wine sounds like temptation. The "temptation of Christ" and how he refused it can be found in Matthew 4:1-11. He also said to pray to be delivered from it: "and lead us not into temptation" (Matthew 6:13).

"Does this mark something very significant?"
Only if you've had too much to drink.

Is there a relationship between him saying ‘It is finished’ and his decision to drink a bit of alcohol after his work was done?

No. "It is finished" is from John 19:30. In John 19:28, before he said, "It is finished," it reads: "Jesus knew that his mission was now finished and to fulfill scripture, he said, 'I thirst.'" So he knew "it was finished" before the man gave him the drink. The fact that he was "given" the drink after he knew it was finished implies that "it is finished" has nothing to do with the drink, especially since the man was mocking him: "Let us see whether Elijah comes to take him down." (Mark 15:36)

Christ saying he is thirsty/thirsts likely has to do with living water, not vinegar or sour wine. In John 7:37, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." In Revelation 22:1, "And he showed me a pure river of water of life." In Revelation 22:17, "Come. And let him that is athirst come... let him take the water of life freely."

Lastly, concerning "after his work was done," it is commonplace in Christianity to attribute Christ's work being "done" on the cross. I think it's more accurate to say it was done, resurrecting. The reason he had to die was because he had to resurrect. Christ made seven statements on the cross. His last statement was: "Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). This is a reference to The Holy Spirit. He had to be given The Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16), it had to "remain on him" (John 1:32), he had to die with The Holy Spirit (Matthew 27:50), he had to resurrect with The Holy Spirit. He gave mortal men with mortal breaths the eternal, resurrecting breath (The Holy Spirit) to ensure their salvation (John 20:22). That's why The Holy Spirit couldn't come until Christ died (John 16:7) -it had to first die and resurrect with him. That was his mission.

  • Steve, you're right. Going to read through the other comments more deeply so I can understand what I'm responding to better. I'll log back on soon and add support. Regarding the alcohol, though, "being sure" about it not being alcohol -we can't "be sure" about anything if it's not in the text. Not sure what you mean here, can you clarify, specifically. Thank you for the smart and friendly correction. :o)
    – Daisy
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 11:51
  • You're right and I love that you edited that correctly. I took it out. Tell me what you think now. I want it right.
    – Daisy
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 18:52
  • Ha! I love it. I'm not doing it now but my history is in working as a newspaper reporter and columnist (now writing my own works) so it's been a while since I've been edited. I think you kept my "voice," which is a good trait in an editor. You also clarified it a little bit -thanks. Regarding the last paragraph, is it fair to include since it is a response to what was written from the OP? That's the only reason it's included.
    – Daisy
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 12:17
  • You're right and thanks for the correction. I'm new to this and need a good editor. Sounds like your Mom gave you some awesome training. I changed the wording, tell me what you think (be honest, I want to conform to the rules here).
    – Daisy
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:12
  • That's great - it's now got a good, consistent style to it, and reads more neutrally. This is all part of why the points system exists, so that we get a chance to catch the 'feel' of StackExchange before we're given the various powers to make comments and modifications and reviews and things. Once you get a few more points you'll then get an automatic headstart when you join any other SE networks, so you're not starting from scratch every time. Now, for tidiness I'm going to remove my comments which no longer pertain to your answer as it is. Thanks for all your hard work improving it!
    – Steve can help
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 7:47

Among the commentaries there is some disagreement as to whether the first offering of wine was in kindness with a wine mixed with frankincense or other herb (in relation to Proverbs 31:6-7 which advised to give strong drink to the condemned), or that both wines were the simply the cheap common Roman sour wine often drank by soldiers. In either case, it does not matter as the point is that it was offered as a mercy to condemned persons to alleviate their sufferings. In the first instance Jesus refused it, in the second, it expressed his thirst and he drank it.

There is the subject of prophecy fulfilment in this story and practical reasons why the prophecies were fulfilled in the way they were. Although it may be agued that Jesus had an eye to the fulfilling of scripture and actually spoke ‘I am thirsty’ to fulfil it, it seems that without also a seeming natural explanation how the events unfolded into the fulfilment, a solid exegesis is not complete. To answer the question, therefore we must answer how this fulfilled scripture and why it was natural so to do given the circumstances

First, how his expression of thirst and his drink of sour wine fulfilled the scripture we see in these two Psalms, one expressing his thirst and the other indicating the bitterness of the drink, possibly symbolic of the sin which he had died for:

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. (NIV Psalms 22:15-18)

They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. (NIV Psalms 69:21)

Second, why his denial of the first drink and his receiving it and even asking for it on the second occasion seems natural in the fulfilment of scripture, is in my view very absorbing. Some commentators just superficially count it as Jesus knowing it would not match the prophecy exactly as the first drink was offered before the scene of the Psalm is fully realized. Other commentaries do not think Jesus was so directly orchestrating events to fulfil scripture but that there is a definite natural reason. Accordingly it seems that what is really going on is that Jesus wanted to be fully alert in facing the penalty of God for sin and in suffering for it. He did not want to be dulled before facing his greatest work and effort. However, after he had finished the work of atonement, he was free to concern himself with the mere needs of his body. Therefore his only complaint on the cross, saying ‘I am thirsty’ signifies that his atonement work was fully finished and he became conscious of his own needs as expressed in the Psalms. No longer was he flooded by the ocean of sin unable to speak or necessarily even consciously think, as he was baptised in a baptism we can never fathom or begin to enter into the mystery of. Once this was complete he attended to his own needs with nothing left to do and he said ‘It was finished’ and he died.

Conclusion: It would seem that the change in his attitude about drinking sour wine indicates that the spiritual and difficult part of the atonement was fully completed, so Jesus could care for his own needs. This completion of the atonement ending in a conscious thirst, with cruel sinners surrounding him, fulfilled the scriptures.

  • @GoneQuiet - I think I understand the question. bones - stretching out of his body on the cross, his bones were made prominent and so bare that People could see them and count them in his agony. bitter food - the hyssop is a bitter herb that they lifted to his mouth, along with the vinegar wine. The sponge transmitted a bit of both, for food and drink, or just symbolically given as it was raised to his mouth in contrast to what he needed and deserved.
    – Mike
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 14:33
  • @GoneQuiet - don't forget, too, that Jesus has already been brutally scourged prior to the crucifixion - that would have laid bare parts of His internal anatomy for display
    – warren
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Mike - very interesting, I've never heard it argued that the atonement was 'completed' prior to Christ's actual death or resurrection. It seems odd to reach this conclusion, as if the price of sin is a few hours of suffering, and not a full death. You've done lots of great, solid work in this answer, but halfway through the second last paragraph it suddenly begins to import assumptions and turns into a bit of a homily. Have given it a (-1) for now as I think there is too much automatically assumed into the meaning of 'it is finished'.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 9:39
  • 1
    @Mike, your comment on your original post indicates that you're looking for a theological answer, and here you're provided that answer and accepted it. While that is your prerogative, we should at least require that you provide some exegesis of the text and reference at least some sources for your opinion. As it stands, your answer does not meet the site's standard for good BH answers.
    – Schuh
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 21:48

It's the fourth cup of Passover. He had three the night before and on the Cross, when his redemptive work was completed and Scripture had been fulfilled (the third cup is the cup of redemption) he had the fourth cup on the Cross.



This answer relies on this question: In Luke 22:16: Does the Syntax Indicate if Jesus Was not Going to Eat THAT Passover?

In the Gospels, Jesus said that he greatly desired to eat the Passover, but that he wouldn't.

One of the ordinances of Passover was to eat bitter herbs, "Myrrh" - which is what seem to have been given to him the first time - and could have been considered a kindness.

When they presented another drink without it, it appears to have been accepted.

So - if Jesus had already made up his mind he wasn't going to - then he hadn't changed his mind.

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