Did Jesus violate His own words, when He first said to His disciples before His crucifixion that He would drink no more wine, and when He later drank wine before His death?


Actually, this question has puzzled quite a few people. It is important to read all the relevant passages in context.

We read in Matthew 26:27-29 that Jesus gave wine to the disciples, symbolizing His shed blood for the forgiveness of sins. The entire passage reads (Authorized Version throughout, unless otherwise mentioned):

“And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

In the parallel passage in Mark 14:25, He is quoted as saying: “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Compare, too, the wording in Luke 22:18.

These passages do not only refer to wine per se, but also to any product or “fruit” of the vine–including grape juice or vinegar.

Later, during the crucifixion, we read indeed that Jesus first refused to drink of the fruit of the vine which was offered to Him.

Matthew 27:34 tells us:

“They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall; and when he tasted thereof, he would not drink.” The parallel passage in Mark 15:23 clarifies that the “vinegar” was actually cheap or “sour wine.” We read: “And they gave him to drink wine [New King James Bible: “sour wine”] mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.” The passage in Luke 23:36 explains further that the soldiers offered Him vinegar or sour wine, at least in part, to mock Him.

W.E.Vine explains in his “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” that the Greek word for “vinegar,” i.e., “oxos,” “denotes sour wine, the ordinary drink of labourers and common soldiers.”

But then, just before His death, we read that Jesus partook of some fruit of the vine. This occurred, in part, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 69:21 (“… in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”). During biblical times, vinegar was usually produced from grapes (compare the reference of “vinegar made from wine,” in Numbers 6:3). So, the Old Testament prophesied that Jesus would drink vinegar or sour wine just before His death.

We read in Matthew 27:48:

“And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar [New King James Bible: “sour wine”], and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.” Compare the parallel account in Mark 15:36.

John informs us in his account that at that time, Jesus DID drink from the vinegar or sour wine. We read in John 19:28-30:

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar [New King James Bible: “sour wine”]: and they filled a spunge with vinegar [“sour wine”], and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had RECEIVED the vinegar [“sour wine”], he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

Many commentaries explain why Jesus did not drink from the “sour wine” earlier, but why He drank from it now. For instance, the Nelson Study Bible writes:

“‘Sour wine’ was not the same as the drugged wine that had been offered to Jesus earlier (‘wine mingled with myrrh’; see Mark 15:23). Jesus did not take that wine because He wanted to die fully conscious. He did take a sip of this wine; one of the agonies of crucifixion was incredible thirst, added to the terrible pain.”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states to John 19:29:

“This was probably that tart small wine which we are assured was the common drink of the Roman soldiers. Our word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, sour or tart wine… This vinegar must not be confounded with the vinegar and gall mentioned [in Matthew 27:34], and [in Mark 15:23]. That, being a stupefying potion, intended to alleviate his pain, he refused to drink; but of this he took a little, and then expired…”

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agrees, stating:

“The vinegar mingled with gall [Matthew 27:34], or the wine mingled with myrrh [Mark 15:23] was offered to Jesus before his crucifixion as a stupefying draught… The vinegar in this case was offered in order to revive Christ. John does not mention the stupefying draught.”

The Broadman Bible Commentary adds: “… because this drink [in John 19:29] was not drugged (as in Mark 15:23; Matt. 27:34) but acutely produced a refreshing effect, Jesus willingly received it.”

To summarize, most commentaries agree that the “vinegar,” or “sour wine,” which Christ refused, was a mixture of vinegar and a narcotic herb which had pain-killing effects, while the second, which He accepted, was the common drink of workers and soldiers known as posca, which was a mixture of vinegar, water and eggs.

What most commentaries fail to explain, however, as far as we can see, is HOW and WHY Jesus COULD drink from the sour or tart wine–the “vinegar”–even though He had said earlier that He would not drink from the fruit of the vine until He would do so WITH HIS DISCIPLES in His Father’s Kingdom. When He drank vinegar or sour wine–which was “fruit of the vine”–, He was not yet in His Father’s Kingdom–nor did the disciples drink with Him, either.

To repeat, it is important to realize that the “vinegar” that Jesus drank just before His death, was “wine vinegar” or “sour wine.”
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the “vinegar” mentioned in John 19:29-30, “… was the common sour wine… daily made use of by the Roman soldiers.” Both Nave’s and Strong’s Greek Dictionary agree that this was sour wine.

The question still remains: How could He drink wine vinegar–a product or fruit of the vine–even though He had said that He would NOT drink of the fruit of the vine until His return to earth at the time of His Second Coming?

It is important to read Jesus’ statements in context. Returning to Luke 22:14-16, we see that Jesus, when saying that He would not eat or drink THEREOF, referred to the symbols of the New Testament PASSOVER. The entire account reads as follows:

“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat THIS PASSOVER with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat THEREOF, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

He went on to say, in verse 18, that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine “until the kingdom of God shall come,” and He distributed the bread–symbolizing His broken body–to be eaten by His disciples (verse 19).

Christ did NOT say that He would not drink any more of any fruit of the vine–vinegar, sour wine, grape juice, etc.–and He did not say that He would not eat anymore any bread, until His return to establish and set up the Kingdom of God. He ONLY made reference to the symbols of bread and wine as part of the New Testament Passover of which He would NOT partake UNTIL He had established the Kingdom of God here on earth.

On the other hand, we read that Christ apparently DID eat bread with two of His disciples after His resurrection, but before His ascension, and, of course, before His return to establish the Kingdom on earth, which has not happened yet. Luke 24:30-31 reports that “… it came to pass, as he sat AT MEAT with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”

In addition, John 21:9, 12, 15 reports that the resurrected Jesus had breakfast with His disciples–eating bread and fish (as they had done on previous occasions, compare Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-37).

In any event, Jesus did not say that He would not eat bread or drink wine until His return. He only spoke of the symbols of bread and wine in the context of the annual New Testament Passover celebration. The Bible does not contradict itself in any way–but it sometimes requires diligent research of the Scriptures to see why and how “the things are so.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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