What does death taste like? Every dying soul knows that it doesn’t taste good. It is an elixir that makes one’s pallet shudder. But scripturally speaking, death tastes fruity.
The pungent wine that Christ consumed on the cross should tingle our spiritual pallets. For it points us towards an equally pungent truth: redemption.
It should not go unnoticed that the last act of Christ’s life was his partaking of the sour wine. For the spoiled fruit that touches his tongue hearkens us back to the beginning of the story.
In Adam’s fall, sinned we all. His sin was what plunged men into the bitter ruin of sin and death. When once his lips touched the forbidden fruit, he forfeited his life. As its juices flowed down his chin the havoc of hell fell upon humanity.
Certainly, the fruit was not a poison in and of itself. All had been created good. This fruit was no less good than any other in the garden. Yet it was a probationary fruit. God had forbidden it. The law said, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die.”
Some scholars like to speculate and say that God would not have withheld the fruit forever, eternally dangling it before him as a form of temptation. They like to suggest that the forbidden fruit was much like any other item requiring patience, like sex.
Sex is a glorious creation of God, but it forbidden until the proper time. The Lord requires us to wait until we are united to our spouse in the bonds of marriage. He reveals the glory of it only at the proper moment.
So theologians opine that the forbidden fruit was much like a dessert that the Lord wished to save until that proper moment of its revealing.
But we will never know that for sure. For Adam, the fruit was ripe to eat.
Death came through one man, and it came once his lips set upon the fruit. He tasted death, and all of its repulsive tartness.
Yet, that last act of Adam’s life is reflexively expressed in the last act of the Second Adam. There is no coincidence. The sour wine that was given to Christ in his dying moment was ordained of God. Christ must taste death too. If redemption is to be had, his lips must savor the fetid fruit of Adam.
Life was first quenched through a fruit that hung on the branches of Eden’s tree. The fruit that dangled from the hyssop branch on Calvary also brought death. But it was a death that brought life.
To be sure, the Savior’s fleshly thirst was not quenched. As mentioned before, it aggravated his state and only served to vex his yearning for hydration. We can say, however, that his primary thirst was quenched.
Christ lived to do the will of the Father. Unlike the first Adam, His sole craving was obedience. And in opening his mouth to this fruit he was performing an act of compliance.
He must die. The Father demanded it. When in Gethsemene he asked if this cup could pass from him. But he realized that he could not avoid it. “Not my will, but thy will be done,” said He.
So, as his final deed he opens his mouth and bites into the sponge. He obediently tastes the punitive flavor of death....and he swallows the curse of hell.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.