In the fifth word from the cross, Jesus says simply, “I thirst.” Someone standing nearby gives him a drink by putting a sponge on a hyssop plant. R.J. Neuhaus in his book Death On A Friday Afternoon: Meditations On The Last Words Of Jesus From The Cross notes that the hyssop is “a small brushy plant quite unsuited to bearing the weight of a sponge soaked in wine.”
He says that some translations of the Bible replaced the word “hyssop” with the word “spear” so as to make the scene more believable. But the mention of the hyssop is not a mistake. It is the plant used in Exodus 12 to sprinkle the lamb’s blood on the doorpost so the angel of death would pass over the home. And Hebrews 9 repeats this theme of the blood and the hyssop. Because as John the Baptist proclaimed when he saw Jesus,
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!