Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. (Mark 15:23, NIV)
In my time of devotions today, I was reading in Mark 15. When I got to verse 24, which begins with, “And they crucified him,” I had to stop and go back to verse 23. “Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” Now, I have read those words before, but today, they jumped off the page as if I had never seen them before. Before they crucified Jesus, before they nailed his hands and his feet to that cross, before he hung there struggling to breath, he was offered wine mixed with myrrh. Why? Because wine mixed with myrrh was a first-century narcotic, meant to lessen the pain of the person being crucified. It would have taken some of the edge off Jesus’ pain. But Jesus did not take it.
In 2015, I underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. Following the surgery, I had to begin what would be six months of physical therapy. In the first few weeks, any movement in the shoulder caused pain. So before I would go for my physical therapy sessions, I would take a painkiller. I didn’t want to feel that pain. But Jesus had already been beaten. He had been whipped to within an inch of his life. Roman soldiers had place a crown of thorns on his head. He was already feeling pain. He was now about to feel the intense pain of nails driven through his hands and feet. He was about to feel like his chest was going to explode as he struggled to take a breath. So, if he had taken that wine mixed with myrrh, who would have blamed him? But Jesus did not take it.
The night before, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the cup he was about to experience, the cup of pain and humiliation he was about to endure, would be taken from him. But Jesus chose to do the Father’s will, and so he took that cup and drank from it fully. He was arrested, he was insulted, he was given what was basically a fixed trial that could have resulted in only one outcome, his being put to death. He was subjected to more pain than many of us have ever experienced. He took that cup and drank it completely. But when he was offered the chance to escape at least some of the pain, when he was offered that cup filled with wine mixed with myrrh, Jesus did not take it.
Jesus chose to suffer in an unimaginable way; he chose to endure incredible pain. He chose to endure ALL of the pain. And so, he did not take the wine mixed with myrrh. If that sounds totally counter-cultural, it is! Would you choose to suffer that kind of pain if you were offered a means of escaping at least some of it? Would I? I can tell you, without hesitation, that I would not. But Jesus did. He chose the pain because it was only through suffering that pain that he could accomplish the mission he was sent for, to redeem a fallen world, to pay the price for my sins and for yours so that, through faith in him, we could enjoy eternity with the Father. Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” For Jesus, the joy of our redemption far outweighed the pain of the cross. Hallelujah!
Scripture verses taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.