And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” (Mk 15:35-36)
Those who hear Jesus speaking the words of Psalm 22, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” think he’s speaking the name of Elijah, the powerful Old Testament prophet. Will Elijah hear Jesus’ plea? Will he come to help? “Let’s watch and find out.”
Roman soldiers would drink “sour wine,” a fermented drink, to refresh them or help them stay alert during their watch. Not unlike a strong cup of coffee late at night or an electrolyte drink to boost your performance. Some of that on a sponge might keep Jesus conscious a little longer. Who knows? Maybe someone will still come along and save the day. Everyone has been challenging Jesus to save himself. Maybe this was it, when he called in the reinforcements.
We’ve all had those moments when we’ve had to call in someone to help. The car won’t start. The air conditioning isn’t working. My back is killing me. I can’t figure out this tax form. Mom keeps losing weight. Something’s eating all the flowers in the garden.
Jesus isn’t calling anyone in to help. He isn’t summoning the legions of angels. He isn’t calling down fire from heaven. He’s not here to condemn anyone.
He’s the one who comes to save the day. He is responding to the pleas of people just like you and me. The crucified Christ is God’s response when we pray, “It was my fault. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I want to do better.” Yes, it takes that kind of suffering, that kind of death and that kind of love to answer your prayer and fix what’s wrong.
Does God hear our plea? Will he come to help? Read the passion one more time. And know that Jesus does come to save the day.
Heavenly Father, you have heard my cries for help. I know, because your Son Jesus was on the cross for me. Amen.