The Jews had a tradition of offering those about to be executed a strong narcotic made with wine mixed with frankincense and myrrh in order to ease the pain. It was probably the women who had followed him to the place of execution who offered Jesus this kindness.

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. – Mark 15:23

The Jewish tradition of offering those about to be executed strong drink probably comes from Proverbs 31:6, which says, Give strong drink to those who are perishing and wine to those whose hearts are bitter (CEB).

We also know from the written traditions of the Jews that a pinch of frankincense was added to the wine so that the mind of the man to be executed became dulled and insensible.

Furthermore, the tradition was that it should be provided by the honourable women of the city, and if they refused to do it, then it was to be provided by the members of the local synagogue or congregation as an act of mercy.

This wine which Jesus was offered just before his execution was different from what the soldiers later offered him on a sponge, which was vinegar mixed with gall.

Why did Jesus refuse to take this mind-numbing drink? It was because the battle against the sin of the world was being waged within his mind at that very moment, and he could not afford to weaken his mind or his will.

Against the raging sin of all the world he had to hold on to the love of the Father with a clear and steady mind. What are the ways in which you try to numb your mind in the deepest struggles of your life? What can you learn from Jesus at Calvary?

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