June 7, 2014 12:00 AM

An act of mercy or mockery?

The Rev. Roger Coleman, Pilgrim Church in Kansas City, Mo.: It was not unusual for family members to offer wine as a sedative to ease the suffering of those condemned to die upon the cross. For the Roman soldier to imitate this act of compassion by putting a sponge soaked in wine and gall on the tip of his spear and holding it up to Jesus’ mouth, as the writer of Matthew makes clear, was not an act of mercy but one of shear mockery.

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