Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor
John’s narrative of the crucifixion, like everything else, stylistically in his book, takes a different tone than the Synoptic Gospels and, being an eyewitness, he adds some statements not found in the other books. John, standing at the foot of the cross saw firsthand the agony his Lord suffered, as the wrath of God and the sin of the world bore down on him.
Jesus had been on the cross for close to 6 hours at this time. Dehydrated, unable to catch a breath without pushing up from the nails in his feet, causing immense pain…in agony. He uses his request for something to moisten his parched lips to point the bystanders, and us, to a pivotal event in the Old Testament.
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:28-29)
Throughout his book, John loves details, but why note the type of branch used? What is the significance of a stick used to hold a sponge full of vinegar?
Remember the story of the Passover in the 12th chapter of Exodus? The children of Israel, called by God to leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses, prepared for the Angel of Death to visit the land this way:
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.
So John, very aware of his Jewish history, is saying “Israel, here is your true passover lamb.” He echoes the words of John the Baptist, “Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” A spotless lamb sacrificed to temporarily save people from death in Egypt points directly to God’s spotless lamb sacrificed to save his people eternally at Calvary.
A hyssop branch is used to avoid death in the first Passover and used in the defeat of death in the final one.
1. How about you? What do you thirst for this week? Is it more of God, more time in His word, more time talking with him as you go about your routines in life? Or do you thirst for the things this world offers us? Temporary pleasures, fleeting things that dull our senses to the things above; things that, in the end, keep us from having the abundant life God wants for us.
2. The woman at the well in John, Chapter 4, came to draw water for her daily sustenance, and ended up with a living water from the source of all life, Jesus. Will you join me in taking a moment to pray that we all look past the day to day, focus on the eternal and see things, and, more importantly, see people from a heavenly perspective this week?