The Perfect Sufferer
They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. — Matt 27:34
The offer was kindly meant. There was an association of women at Jerusalem, a compassionate sisterhood, whose work was to provide such stupefying draughts for those who were crucified. The object was to produce partial unconsciousness, so that the terrible agonies might not be so keenly felt. It is pleasant to find that such an association existed at that early day, and that it was among the Jewish people. True religion always yields such fruits. Christianity has filled the world with just such gentle ministries. Wherever there is pain Christian women go to alleviate it.
But it must be noticed that Christ did not accept this potion. He tasted it, showing His recognition and appreciation of the kindness that offered it, but he did not drink it. One reason probably was that He would not seek to lessen in any way the bitterness of the cup which His Father had given Him to drink. He would drink it to its last drop, and not dull the sense of suffering in Himself to make the draught any less bitter.
Another reason doubtless was that He would not cloud His mind in the least degree as He entered the last experiences of life. He would not dim the clearness of His communion with His Father by any potion that should impair His full consciousness. The example of Christ does not teach that it is wrong in ordinary cases to use anaesthetics to deaden the sense of pain. There were peculiar reasons why our Lord would abate nothing of the bitterness of His suffering. Chloroform and ether have been wonderful agents of mercy and blessing in the world. But it does seem proper that a person should not when dying be given any potion which would cloud the mind, or send the soul in a state of stupefaction through the experiences of death and into the presence of God.