Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus Refused Gall

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)

When the Roman soldiers left the Praetorium with Jesus, they required him to carry the cross on which he would be crucified; however, Jesus was so weak from flogging and torture that he couldn’t carry the heavy cross through the Jerusalem streets. The soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’s cross through to Golgotha where the crucifixion occurred.

At Golgotha, the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with gall. After tasting the drink, Jesus refused it. When Roman soldiers felt pity for a prisoner before crucifixion, they added gall to a vinegar-wine drink and offered it to prisoners. The English word “gall,” in the New Testament, comes from the Greek word chole (Strong’s Concordance #G5521) which literally means poison. After tasting the drink, Jesus refused it.

Then, the soldiers used nails to pound Jesus’ hands and feet into the cross. Jesus continued to wear the crown of thorns. By Roman law, the soldiers were required to write the charges against the accused at the top of the cross so that all who passed by would know the reason for the crucifixion. The inscription on Jesus’ cross was, “The King of the Jews.” The Roman soldiers positioned the cross up-right into a hole in the ground so that Jesus hung from the cross. Two thieves were being crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus was crucified at the third hour of the day, or about 9:00 a.m.

Perhaps pity for the crucified sufferer was not the only reason Roman soldiers offered gall about to be crucified individuals including Jesus. Soldiers were required to guard the crucifixion site and men crucified there until the men were dead. The quicker a man died, the sooner the Roman soldiers could leave the site and return to their garrison.

Composition of  Gall?

Controversy exists among Christians and botanist about the source of the bitter substance added to the wine vinegar drink. One proposed substance include juice from the opium poppy which caused pain relief but also hallucination which could lessen the experience of dying by crucifixion. A problem with this drug was that the opium poppy didn’t grow in Israel. I just can’t imagine Roman soldiers paying for an exotic drug for a condemned prisoner.  Another drug was from the wormwood plant. Wormwood grew in Israel and had a bitter taste.  Wormwood was the basis for an alcoholic drink (absinthe) which could reduce feeling and contact with reality. Roman soldiers wouldn’t share alcohol with a condemned prisoner.

Perhaps, the best source of gall added to the vinegar wine drink was from hemlock (Conium maculatum).  Poisonous hemlock is a biennial shrub that grows in Israel. The poisonous hemlock is similar to wild parsley and wild carrots foliage. When farmers see the plant they immediately remove it. Animals and humans who eat the poisonous hemlock plant first become sedated then paralyzed. Finally, they die from respiratory muscle paralysis.  In first century Palestine, seeds and leaves of the poisonous hemlock plant were distilled into liquid and added to wine vinegar drink. The hemlock addition made the drink tastes bitter and it became poisonous. A crucified individual who breathing muscles were paralyzed died quicker than one not given poisonous hemlock.

What’s so important about a drink?

After a night of torture and walking through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha, Jesus was dehydrated and thirsty. Yet, Jesus refused the poisonous hemlock-infused drink for two primary reasons. First Jesus did not want to be sedated. He wanted to feel all the agony of the crucifixion which included his father (God) turning his face away from the sins of you and me that Jesus took on the cross. Second, prophets identified that Jesus would die by crucifixion, not poison (reference). If he drank the gall he would have died from poisoning not from the pain of crucifixion.

I asked my minister, “Would it have made a difference to our redemption, if Christ died from poison rather than crucifixion?” In both, scenarios, Jesus was crucified and died. Pastor Mark believes how Jesus died was important. God required his pure, sinless son not to just die but to suffer. God’s plan wasn’t for Jesus to hang on the cross sedated; rather, Jesus was to be alert those six hours. When Jesus agreed to his Father’s plan to be the sacrifice for the sins of mankind, he knew that his Father, the perfect God, couldn’t look on sin; thus, God couldn’t look on Jesus when Jesus took on him sins of all mankind.

What way other than alert, could Jesus lead a thief crucified on one side of him to believe in himself as the Son of God? Remember, God isn’t willing that any individual should perish (reference). If only one sinful person lived on earth and were separated from God, Jesus would have suffered and died for that one person. Save

What would you have done?

From this passage in Matthew, we know what Jesus did – he allowed himself to be crucified without any chemical barrier between himself and his pain and ultimate death.  Now, after we knew what Jesus would do and did do, each of us must ask ourselves what are we going to do in response to someone who loves us so much?

If you want more information on Bible plants, visit my website http://www.carolynrothministry.com

Copyright may 28, 2018; carolyn a. roth

First Passover

Bible Reference:  Exodus chapters 11:1 – 12:36.

Moses followed God’s direction and asked to allow the Israelites to go into the desert and worship God. Pharaoh’s answer was an emphatic “no”; he was not going to allow the valuable Israelite slaves leave Egypt. As a result of Pharaoh’s pride, stubbornness, and manipulative behavior, God visited 10 plagues on Egypt.  Two plagues – the 7th and 10th plague — have direct relevance to plants. The seventh plague was a severe rain storm that involved thunder, lightning, and hail. The hail caused the barley and flax to be destroyed. The wheat and spelt were not destroyed because they ripened later. These plants – barley, flax, wheat, and spelt – will be described in later chapters of God as a Gardener.

The NIV Study Bible (2002) labeled the 10th, and final plague sent on Egypt as “The Plague of the Firstborn.”  The 10th plague was the death of the firstborn of every man and animal in Egypt with the exception of those of the Israelites. To keep the death angel from entering Israelite homes, God required the Israelites to slaughter a lamb or goat and place the animal’s blood on the sides and top of their door frames. That same night, the meat of the slaughtered animal was roasted.  Then, the meat, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread were eaten.

God told the Israelites to eat bitter herbs with their meal to remind them of the bitterness they experienced in Egypt.  Common practice was for Egyptian taskmasters to whip Israelite slaves. The Israelites must have experienced terrible bitterness when their newborn sons were taken from them and thrown into the Nile River to die. They were powerless to stop these murders. The final way bitter herbs symbolized bitterness was related directly to the death of Egyptian first born sons. The death of Egyptians’ first-born sons was the price of Israelite freedom.  Pharaoh’s resolve to keep the Israelites was not shattered until his son was killed. Individual, family, and national freedom through death of children – even children not their own — would have been a source of bitterness for the Israelites.

In Egypt bitter herbs included endive, chicory, dandelion, and wild lettuce. The type of bitter herb used in the first Passover meal may have varied among families.  Exodus 10:15 recorded that “nothing green remained on tree or plant in all of Egypt” after the eighth plague, the plague of the locust. Possible some families stored one type of bitter herb, while other families had another bitter herb available to them.

The Endive Plant

 In this chapter, endive, Cichorium endivia, is used as an example of a bitter herb. In early Greek translations of the Bible, the word “endive” was used in place of “bitter herbs.”  Although the origin of endive is lost from history, the first wild species may have grown in Turkey and Syria.  Probably, endive  was native to India, China or Egypt.  Endive produces attractive light blue flowers which grow on stems that stand above the leafy foliage. Endive is used almost exclusively in raw salads. Its slightly bitter flavor is often more appreciated by Europeans than Americans. Adding a sweet or oily salad dressing can balance the bitter taste.

Symbolism: Bitterness

The symbolism of bitter herbs including endive is clear from the name – they refer to bitterness. Bitterness is something intensely distressing or disturbing to the mind (Merriam-Webster Incorporated , 2005). Bitterness is an expression of severe pain, grief, or regret.

Writing to the Ephesians (4:31), Paul told them to get rid of all bitterness.  Yet, God wanted the Israelites to eat bitter herbs at the annual Seder meal during Passover to remind the Israelites of their bitterness in Egypt.  How are we to reconcile putting off all bitterness with God’s direction to the Israelites to remember their bitterness annually?

I think there is a difference between remembering a bitter occasion as a precursor to celebration of a better life, versus remembering bitterness to the point that it leads to resentment of God, situations, and people. Certainly, God did not tell the Israelites to hate or resent the Egyptians. Rather, the Seder meal which included bitter herbs was a meal celebrated the Israelite exodus from Egypt.

Remembering bitterness (of pain, grief, and regret) disturbs our minds. Bitterness supplants the peace Christ designed to rule our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).  Our bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-31).  Can we remember bitterness as an object lesson, but not allow it to control our lives? In his book Total Forgiveness, R.T. Kendell (2007) suggested that forgiveness was the answer to bitterness. He identified four parts to this forgiveness:

Step 1, we need to forgive whomever and whatever situation caused the bitterness in us. The Israelites needed to forgive the Egyptians for enslaving them.

Step 2, we need to forgive ourselves for contributing to the situation that caused bitterness. The Israelites needed to forgive themselves for remaining in Egypt for 400 years, well after the famine in Canaan was over.

Step 3, we need to forgive God.  Saying we must forgive God seems odd and almost improper. Does the created forgive the creator?  In this situation forgiveness means we need to acknowledge our bitterness toward God for letting us get in a devastatingly painful situation.

I think that some Israelites blamed their bitterness on God. After God led them out of Egypt, probably some cried “Where were you when my son was murdered? If you would have freed us sooner, my son would be alive.”  The reality is that we do blame God for some, or even much, of our bitterness. If we want to get rid of bitterness toward God, we need to tell God our feelings, tell God we forgive him, and really mean it.

Step 4, we need to ask God’s forgiveness. Without bitterness in our hearts, we can confess our sinful feelings of bitterness toward God and ask his forgiveness.

From time to time, we may still remember the bitter situation; however, the pain of it will be gone or go away over time. For years I had bitterness in my heart over a situation. I tried a number of ways to get rid of it, to no avail. Then, I read Total Forgiveness and implemented the four steps of confession and forgiveness that Kendall recommended. Now, I am free of the bitterness of this situation. Thank you, God.

Reflection: The past cannot be changed, but the future is whatever you want it to be. Is there bitterness in your life that needs attention?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God  and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright August 26, 2011; carolyn a. roth

Palms in Triumphal Entry

Triumphal entry

Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem took place on the first day of the week by the Jewish week. Christian’s call this day “Palm Sunday” or “Passion Sunday.” Jesus went from Bethany, through the Mount of Olives, to Jerusalem. At Bethphage disciples brought to him a colt to ride on. Crowds along the way, placed their cloaks on the road for his colt to step on, people waved palm leaves, and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.”

The crowds expect Jesus to throw off the oppression of the Roman, to implement fair and equitable taxation, to initiate fair wages, provide food for them in abundance, heal their bodies and relationships, and repudiate the oppressive requirements of the Pharisees.

Most of the people in the crowd were rustic, many had followed Jesus from Galilee. They remembered that 200 years previously, Jerusalemites welcomed Judas Maccabaeus when he entered Jerusalem after he defeated the pagan Syrian king and freed the Jews. At that time, the people met Judas Maccabaeus with waving palm branches. They really wanted Jesus to do what Judas Maccabaeus did.

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Palm Leaves

Palm trees often grow 100 feet tall.  Palm trees grow only at the top of the tree and are 6-8 feet long. Flowers bloom in April – May. The fruit of Israeli palm tree is a date which typically ripens August-December. Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Moses told them it would be a  land of milk and honey. He was not referring to honey made by bees but honey from the date palm tree.

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Jesus’s Action

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, people were expecting a king. Instead Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple courts (Mark 11:11). He looked around at everything in the Temple; but since it was already late, we went back to Bethany with the 12 disciples. When Jesus looked around, he was not being casual; he looked to see if the Temple was a place to worship God where all were welcome. Was the Temple functioning in the way God planned for it to function?

Clearly, it was not because at another time, he chided the Temple leaders by saying that they made the Temple a den of thieves and robbers. Jesus was unhappy about what he saw and the people were unhappy at what he did. They wanted a war lord and got a suffering servant. Probably, some of the crowd that greeted Jesus with palm leaves and hosannas, were the same people that called for his crucifixion.

The two photos above are palm leaves that we received in church this morning, Palm Sunday. Notice the dried cross. We save crosses made from palm leaves an entire year. They are burned to create ashes for Ash Wednesday which starts Lent in orthodox churches.

Reflection: What do you think people want from Jesus today? Are you a suffering servant for God?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: March 20, 2016; Carolyn A. Roth

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Easter Dogwood

Dogwood tree Many individuals believe that the cross on which Christ was crucified was from a dogwood tree. They associate the dark spot on each petal of the dogwood flower with the wounds on his hands and feet.

In reality, the dogwood tree did not grow in   Judea in Christ’s time. Historians don’t know the species of tree used for the cross. Remember the song – The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard (1873-1958). Thoughtfully, read (or even sing) the words.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
	the emblem of suffering and shame;
	and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
	for a world of lost sinners was slain.
Refrain:
	So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
	till my trophies at last I lay down;
	I will cling to the old rugged cross,
	and exchange it some day for a crown.

2.	O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
	has a wondrous attraction for me;
	for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
	to bear it to dark Calvary.
	(Refrain)

3.	In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
	a wondrous beauty I see,
	for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
	to pardon and sanctify me.
	(Refrain)

4.	To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
	its shame and reproach gladly bear;
	then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
	where his glory forever I'll share.
dogwood-flowers-11	(Refrain)

Jesus Refused Gall

Bible Reference: TPapaver somniferum,he episode of Christ refusing gall, a sedative-painkiller is recorded in Matthew 27:32-40.

When the Roman soldiers left the Praetorium with Jesus, they required him to carry the cross on which he would be crucified; however, Jesus was so weak from flogging and torture that he couldn’t carry it through the streets. The soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’s cross to Golgotha where the crucifixion occurred. At Golgotha, the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with gall. After tasting the drink, Jesus refused it. Then, the soldiers used nails to pound Jesus’ hands and feet into the cross. Jesus continued to wear the crown of thorns. 

By Roman law, the soldiers were required to write the charges against the accused at the top of the cross so that all who passed by would know the reason for the crucifixion. The inscription on Jesus’ cross was, “The King of the Jews.” The Roman soldiers positioned the cross up-right into a hole in the ground so that Jesus hung from the cross. Two thieves were being crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus was crucified at the third hour of the day, or about 9:00 a.m.

When Roman soldiers felt pity for a prisoner before crucifixion, they added gall, or poppy juice, to the vinegar drink offered to prisoners. The opium poppy is a narcotic that induces a high level of deep sleep and pain relief. The common Western drugs morphine and codeine are distilled from the opium poppy.  

Gall

The gall in the wine offered to Jesus was most likely distilled from the Papaver somniferum plant, commonly called the opium poppy. Most books identify the opium poppy as a Far East plant; however, it was native to the Mediterranean region and eastward to Iran. In Israel, the opium poppy produces its beautiful flower in March and April. The opium poppy petal is a soft purple that looks rumpled, like an un-ironed cotton shirt. 

When the poppy capsule is harvested for its juice, a knife is used to cut transverse or vertical incisions in the unripe capsule. So valuable poppy juice is not lost or seeds damaged, harvesters take special care not to cut through the capsule wall. The white juice seeps through the cuts and hardens into brown masses on the outside capsule wall. These brown masses are scraped off the outer capsule wall, then combined in a clay pots or large trays and kneaded to a uniform consistency. This crude poppy is shaped into balls, cakes, or sticks for marketing. In the United States, it is illegal for home gardeners to grow opium poppies. 

Symbolism: Sedation

This poppy produces opium, the ingredient in the gall offered to Jesus before his crucifixion. The drug would have sedated Jesus making him sleepy and reducing his pain.  If a high concentration of opium was included in the gall, Jesus would have experienced hallucinations, further reducing his contact with reality. Jesus’ refused the sedative. He was determined to experience both the physical and mental pain associated with redeeming mankind. 

Reflection: Would it have made a difference to our redemption, if Christ drank the gall and was sedated on the cross?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: Carolyn A. Roth, 2/14

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