In Part three of our Garden Series, we discussed what to expect while in the throws of our wilderness season. Right before any great move of God regarding our destiny the Enemy attacks. We discussed several things to expect when you are just about to step into your destiny: accusations, condemnation, and mockery. Jesus endured all of this and much worse on the cross. There is one last thing Jesus endured right before committing His Spirit, conquering death and adopting us as His people. It is the very thing that creeps up on us subtly: Temptation. I don’t know about you, but when I think of temptation, I think of a not so obvious sneaky person trying to lure me into doing something I shouldn’t. It’s easy for us to believe that temptation is obvious because if we understood how subtle it really is, we might have to examine our lives a little more closely.
Temptation is not always an overtly bad thing. In fact sometimes it’s not anything “bad” at all, which is how we can become trapped in the first place. Temptation is not always an Adam and Eve moment. It’s not even a Jesus in the desert moment where He was tempted to turn stones to bread. No, unfortunately, temptation can be so much more subtle than that. When we are in a place of suffering right before our divine destiny, there will always be something offered to try and numb the pain. It can be anything that is used with the intent of escaping the pain of the prison. Whether it be emotionally, physically, spiritually or financially, whatever we use to distract us from our purpose is a detriment. Distraction is a form of Temptation as it attempts to get our eyes off of God and our purpose.
Jesus knew what it was like to deal with distraction. In Jesus’s case, many are confused regarding the drink Jesus was offered while dying on the cross. Let’s take a closer look.
Mark 15:23 states, “Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”
Matthew 27:34 says, “they offered Him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it.”
When we look at Mark and Matthew, we see that the word “gall” means bitterness and so gall and myrrh were the same thing here indicating that the bitter substance mixed with wine was intended to anesthetize Jesus. Myrrh is a bitter substance known to alleviate pain. In Mark and Matthew, we see that Jesus was offered something to stupefy Him and numb the agony He was in. He refused.
John recalls the vinegar soaked in a sponge on the stalk of a Hyssop plant and Matthew recalls the second instance of a drink being offered. Luke mentions wine vinegar offered to mock.
John 19:28-30 says, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Matthew 27:45-50 “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,clemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him. Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.”
Luke 23:36 “The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar”
There are two things that are important to recognize. First, when Jesus was offered the anesthetic drink, He refused, knowing that He must endure the suffering rather than anesthetize it. The second time He was offered a drink was the vinegar with the Hyssop reed. The vinegar was not an act of mercy, and it contained no drug or anesthetic in it rather it was an act of mockery and torture. The purpose of it was to prolong the pain as it did not actually relieve thirst at all. It was intended to refresh just enough to lengthen the time frame of agony. In both cases where the vinegar was given with the Hyssop reed, Jesus breathed His last breath.The hyssop reed was also used in the Old Testament Exodus 12:22, as a paintbrush to apply the lamb’s blood to the doorpost so the Angel of Death would pass. Once again this is no coincidence as Jesus, the sacrificial lamb was given a drink to mock and prolong death with the hyssop reed. He took the weight of our sins with His blood. Hyssop also represented cleansing as well as purification and Jesus in His death cleansed us with His blood shed for us. Now, we appear white as snow before Father God.
In Psalm 69:21 David says, “They also gave me gall for my food And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” This is considered a Messianic prophecy applying metaphorically to David but literally to Christ. David felt like this in his Psalm, but Jesus actually endured it.
There are times in the throws of our own painful circumstances the Enemy will offer an anesthetic. It will be something to numb the pain and seemingly “help us” endure the circumstance. In reality, this is not something that will help at all, but render you unable to think clearly. Jesus could not be rendered unconscious or drugged. Part of His purpose was to bear the burden of sin on His shoulders. He needed clarity for such a task. Jesus doesn’t offer us vinegar to drink when we come to Him thirsty. He offers us rivers of living water. That’s the difference. Temporary fixes with the purpose of “helping us” only become idols later on. That which numbs the pain now will numb His Spirit later. It will take the place of God on the throne and become an idol. Whether it’s alcohol, food, busyness, a spouse or our children, that which we dive into to avoid feeling pain will only prolong our pain. That which we dive into to avoid working on ourselves and going deeper will stagnate us. There are so many things that the Enemy can use as a temptation into the bondage of distraction. I can’t tell you how many times I have used chores and tasks and busyness to avoid the pain of loss. Was my checklist wrong? Was cleaning my home and making dinner and such a bad thing? No. However, the intent behind it was wrong. The intent of my heart was to stay busy to avoid the pain of loss. I wasn’t staying still because it hurt too much. When the Enemy can use something good to distract us, it prolongs the healing process. We wander around the same mountain over and over never reaching the top. It’s hard to be in a place of pain, and harder to handle it without using something to dull the agony. The good news is that in the death of Jesus we were given a Comforter who can give us peace that surpasses all understanding. Believe me, I am proof that joy comes in the morning.
Jesus, in His death on the cross, shows us how to refuse that which attempts to alter our destiny by altering our mind and heart. Instead, Jesus drank of the vinegar so we could drink from Living Water. In doing so, Jesus taught us of the value of endurance and perseverance in the most painful of circumstances. This is where victory was won. The place of death is where resurrection took place. When you are in that place of refinement before your destiny, it hurts because there are parts of you dying. In place of death to self, a new creature is formed. One with a renewed mind and renewed strength. Jesus borrowed the grave for three days and rose again, crushing the Enemy. The Garden of Golgotha was where Jesus died, but it was also where He rose again. Are you willing to die to self and rise again? I know it hurts, and Jesus knows your pain, but on the other side of that death is deliverance and destiny. What is keeping you distracted from your destiny today?
Prayer Starter: Jesus, this hurts, and I don’t like this place of pain. Help me discern the subtle (or not so subtle) distractions in my life preventing me from my destiny. Search my heart, Lord, and reveal that which is keeping me from seeking you in this place. I don’t want vinegar Lord, and I don’t want the gall, those things will never satisfy me as You will. Lord, instead I want to drink from the fount of Your Living Waters, so I will never be thirsty again. I declare and decree that I will rise up on the wings of eagles, that I will run and not grow weary and that I will walk but not faint ( Isaiah 40:31). I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen
After prayer write the answers to these questions
1.What has Holy Spirit revealed as your distractions? Write it down
2.Ask Holy Spirit; Holy Spirit why am I giving in to the temptation of these distractions? What is the underlying reason? Write it down.
3.Repentance- Father forgive me for choosing _________________ over You. I realize now that I am using ___________________ to avoid the pain of ____________________. I give you this situation and I place it into Your capable hands. I now receive Your perfect peace that surpasses all understanding. I am trusting You, Lord. Help me to guard my heart against distractions.
4. Choose scriptures to create declarations and decrees regarding your personal situation.