Filthy Roman Sponge 26





26 thoughts on “Filthy Roman Sponge

  1. Barbara Sep 24, 2009 3:00 pm

    It’s an interesting exegesis, given that I can’t find in Scripture where it says they “tried to shut him up” by ramming a sponge in his mouth, but rather that they offered him leavened wine in response to his expression of thirst, leavened wine given with a bit of hyssop on its stalk.

    The discussion and treatment of that moment that stands out to me the most was given by the folks at in their DVD, “What Manner of Love is This?” when they draw the parallels with the hyssop stalk applying the blood of the passover lamb to the wooden lintels of their homes; and now here we have the fulfillment of that, the Passover Lamb whose blood is covering the wooden post of the cross; the hyssop bringing the wine filled with leaven (yeast), commonly used Biblically as a symbol for sin, as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world ingests that leaven before drawing his last breath – “It is finished.”

    That seems to me, at least, to be a far more faithful discussion of the matter, not to mention far more powerful in light of the whole of Scripture and the discussion in Hebrews regarding the copies of the heavenly things coming to fulfillment in Christ.

  2. Matt Sep 24, 2009 3:21 pm

    You are far more gracious in your comment than I think I would have been, and you said it much better than I could have so bravo.

    I will add that Mr. Driscoll’s cheapening of Christ’s work on the cross is very sad.

  3. Sophie Sep 24, 2009 5:07 pm

    Did this guy go to seminary? If so, I’d like to know which one so I can avoid it.

  4. Tommy F Sep 24, 2009 5:16 pm

    Matt, this is Driscoll? I’ve heard the name, but never seen his face.

    I’ll return now to ignoring him.

  5. Jim W Sep 24, 2009 6:39 pm

    Tommy F;It would be a very bad thing to ignore Driscoll. He has some strong supporters (John Piper for one) and he is far more influential than Noble or Furtick ever thought of being. They’re big talkers with semi-Christian followings, Driscoll is a big talker with a strong strain of real Christianity in his work-far more than enough to convince many, many people that he’s the next Apostle Paul or somebody like that. Sadly, he has an extremely foul mouth and a very low view of God and Jesus. As seen in this video, he also comes up with far-fetched versions of what really happened in the Bible. Look up some of the stuff on Pyromaniacs or Defending, Contending. There are some very thorough reviews of his body of work on those sites (and others). It will most certainly put you off your feed.

  6. Jeff Sep 24, 2009 6:47 pm

    Your last post had to do with the believers in Acts 2 making disciples of themselves. Well, here is a good example of what comes out of self-discipleship. His imagination got the best of him, and there was no restraint in him to prevent that imagination getting out and pretending to be ‘teaching’.

    Actually, I like Mark. I have a real appreciation for him, but not all the time. It’s these moments that make a person cringe. He is not a false-teacher as some may want to call him. He does preach the gospel and there are many examples of that. However, he really, really needs to be discipled by someone older and wiser who can break him of these odd, fanciful, disgusting moments.

    I’d say, pray for him; the people who listen to him deserve it.

  7. Ron Sep 24, 2009 7:17 pm

    I have to give Driscoll some fair measure of credit. He is a work in progress as are we all in Christ. I grieve for P Noble, Furtick, et all, because they seem to be drifting further and further away from the faith delivered to us by the apostles, but Driscoll has exhibited a fair measure of depth and growth as he is mentored by men such as J Piper, D. A. Carson and others. He seems, without regard to the questionable exegesis exhibited in the video shared in this post, to be on an overall positive trajectory. The problem is that some CEO/pastors try to emulate Driscoll’s edginess, sometimes throwing in a bit of Ed Young’s ‘hip and relevant style’ in the mix, and you end up with a well-intentioned, but misguided and uninspired CEO/pastors like P Noble who eschew the pastoral heart exhibited by Driscoll.

    Might be of interest to watch – – regarding Joel Osteen…a man (wolf?) embraced by P Noble and S Furtick.

    -Driscoll on “The Shack” –

    From what I gather, Driscoll, though pastoring a megachurch in Seattle, actually does the work of a pastor, meeting with and giving personal council to his flock. There seems to be, from what I gather, no velvet rope around Driscoll. Can’t say that about some megachurch pastors……

  8. Paul Sep 24, 2009 7:18 pm

    I have major concerns with Driscoll. The thing is, a lot of people are hard on furtick and noble, and rightly so. Yet, Driscoll has many supporters from influential evangelicals. The only thing I can think of is the reason is because he claims to be reformed in doctrine. If he was not, i think much of his support from influential pastors would not be there. in fact, they would be highly critical. I personally would not associate with him or his ministry. you cannot be a faithful and godly preacher of God’s WOrd, and be cool in the eyes of the world. it just doesn’t work…you ultimately become like the world if your primary goal is coolness and “relevant”.

  9. Tommy F Sep 24, 2009 7:50 pm

    All that have posted so far,

    Talk about a ringing endorsement. I think such damning praise actually justifies me in ignoring him.

    Unless, of course, PP keeps his nonsensical imaginative sermons front and center.

  10. James Duncan Sep 24, 2009 9:03 pm

    It took two thousand years, but Driscoll has finally figured it out. Isn’t it funny how the connection escaped even luminaries like Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc.

    When leaders get visions directly from God and find new insights that nobody has ever seen, we need to be especially on guard. That said, I’d much prefer to have someone propose these ideas as his own reasoning rather than God’s revelation, as Driscoll has done here. At least that gives us the space to test the idea and disagree with him.

  11. James Downing Sep 24, 2009 10:31 pm

    I don’t know why he saw the need to find a new angle on the Gospel. It is pure speculation, and only weakens the impact overall. There are so many things that may have happened that day…but we know that the things recorded in Scripture DID happen, and God is able to convey to us, through His Word all that we need. I was actually really upset by this at first. Driscoll seemed to be making strides towards more solid teaching.
    I am really curious to see if Macarthur and Piper address this. I hope so.

  12. James Duncan Sep 24, 2009 10:55 pm

    I’m hoping there are a few pastors reading who will be able to answer this question with more authority than I am able to. Wouldn’t touching faeces to Jesus’ mouth (thanks for the idea, Driscoll) have made him an unacceptable sacrifice?

    Leviticus demands sacrifices that were clean and without blemish. Based on the instructions in Deuteronomy 23:12-14 to keep latrine waste out of God’s sight, wouldn’t Driscoll’s claims have made Christ an unacceptable sacrifice and disqualified him as a priest?

  13. Tommy F Sep 24, 2009 11:01 pm

    What’s amazing is the entire cross scene, as recorded in the 4 gospels, is full of enlightening details, prophetic fulfillments, theological content, and powerful imagery. And yet, some feel the need to “find” new elements and imagery, as if the original content and meaning is somehow not enough.

    Here, the truth is not only stranger, it is superior, to Driscoll’s fiction.

  14. Michael Sep 24, 2009 11:03 pm

    I am surprised that so many of you who have never heard or seen Driscoll before are able to make judgements on the accuracy of his doctrinal beliefs and education. I myself have a number of issues with Mr. Driscoll mostly centered around his modeling. With that being said, anyone who claims that Mr. Driscoll has a low view of Jesus or God is being utterly foolish.

    To be clear, I dont agree with the Mr. Driscolls exegesis of this text. If you want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, thats fine, but there will be no one left. As MacArthur put it, everyone has some doctrine thats off, including himself. He just hasn’t figured out what it is yet.

    • James Duncan Sep 24, 2009 11:11 pm


      It seems to me that MD has been shown an awful lot of deference in these comments. Downing didn’t take a shot in the original post, and most commentators have been trying to show how they disagree with the clip, yet don’t assume it means that Driscoll has been sucking his own sponge, so to speak.

      Tommy just pointed out that he hasn’t paid much attention to him in the past, and doesn’t intend to now. Do we all need our daily dose of Driscoll? Is Tommy really missing much by ignoring him?

      What Driscoll said here is BIG STUFF. It changes so much of the meaning of the crucifixion. It changes, in Driscoll’s mind, what Jesus was saying when he made his last statements from the cross. That’s stuff you don’t mess with.

      Besides the error of interpretation, what is Driscoll doing preaching from Roman history books? Are the Gospel accounts insufficient? Did the writers forget to tell us such a significant detail?

      I’m sorry, but Driscoll is full of sponge on this one.

  15. Tommy F Sep 24, 2009 11:31 pm


    I’ve heard of MDriscoll, but have not heard him. I’ve made no judgments on the accuracy of his beliefs, just his inability and lack of appreciation for the crucifixion texts as they stand – without his embellishments. In light of his low view of scripture, his view of God is irrelevant, and are closely related anyway. In short, if this is the type of clip his church publishes on youtube for public consumption (as if this is the best portion of the sermon), then I will continue to ignore him. There are plenty of bad exegetes on the net, TV, etc. Why support one more?


    I think it might be better phrased: “he’s not sponge worthy.”

  16. Nolan Sep 25, 2009 9:35 am

    Interesting post…

    Why invent new ways of explaining things and new stories?? Let’s just be faithful to the ones that we’ve already got. I mean it is the perfect, inerrant, infallible word of God isn’t it??

    By the way Duncan…what was with the Chandler comparison? Do you agree or disagree with what he said??

  17. James Duncan Sep 25, 2009 9:38 am

    Agree with Chandler; disagree with Driscoll.

    Chandler did it right.

  18. Nolan Sep 25, 2009 9:41 am

    Ok…Good. Me too.

  19. LNza Sep 25, 2009 3:46 pm

    “I wonder if this is Driscoll’s homage to Matt Chandler.

    Chandler: Jesus wants the rose.

    Driscoll: Jesus wants the sponge.” – jduncan

    Maybe I’m missing your argument, but I don’t think what you’re saying makes sense.

    and I don’t think MD is saying: “Jesus wants the sponge.”

    can you elaborate on this?


    “When leaders get visions directly from God”

    When did MD claim that is insight came from God, it seems he attributes it to a conversation with a historian or sorts. But again, I haven’t listened to the whole message.


    “Besides the error of interpretation, what is Driscoll doing preaching from Roman history books? Are the Gospel accounts insufficient? Did the writers forget to tell us such a significant detail?”

    Would you say that we overstep our bounds when we teach the Bible along with historical facts? What would you say is acceptable to use other than the bible to help explain/teach?



    “his inability and lack of appreciation for the crucifixion texts as they stand – without his embellishments. In light of his low view of scripture, his view of God is irrelevant”

    These are pretty bold statements against a man that you haven’t heard. I wouldn’t consider his view of scripture low, for many reasons, one being that he holds a very high view of scripture, blatantly. That’s a pretty large leap you’ve taken merely by this statement,which, in my opinion, does not discredit/enhance/change Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

    It seems you can take or leave what MD says and it doesn’t seem to affect my view of the cross and sacrifice. Am I wrong in this?

  20. Rob Sep 25, 2009 4:17 pm

    Check the comments on YouTube There are some good references to scripture. In particular

    Luke 23:35-36
    35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
    36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

    Matt 27:45-48
    45From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
    47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
    48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

    Psalm 69:21
    They gave me poison for food,
    and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

    The video clip doesn’t provided enough context for Driscoll’s comments. Here’s the entire transcript from which the clip is taken

  21. James Duncan Sep 25, 2009 8:53 pm


    1) The Chandler clip is fairly well known. Driscoll’s just seemed similar in approach (stick, rose/sponge). It seemed like a fun connection to me. If you don’t see it, don’t worry. Not a biggie.

    2) I was giving your man an attaboy. MD didn’t say he got this in a vision from God. That’s to his credit.

    3) Historical facts let us understand the context of some aspects of the Bible, but they aren’t necessary and should always be secondary. MD’s lesson here falls apart without his textbooks, so it should be rejected on its face. He should be able to justify his sponge theory from Scripture alone if he wants to preach on it. I don’t see that Driscoll can do that. Do you?

    Matthew 27:45-48, cited in the previous comment, looks like a simple refutation of MD’s claim. The soldier went and filled the sponge with vinegar for Jesus to drink. In Driscoll’s theory, the sponge would have already been infused with traces of vinegar from the disinfecting. There also wouldn’t have been enough vinegar to expect that someone would drink from it.

    As Tommy, Rob and others have argued, there’s enough meaning in the Gospel accounts to keep us sufficiently informed about the crucifixion. We don’t need Driscoll to add to it.

    • James Duncan Sep 25, 2009 9:09 pm

      A couple more points. I read the transcript that Rob linked to.

      First, a compliment. MD was announcing the beginning of what will likely be a three-year preaching series on Luke. There’s a model to emulate. Well done, Pastor Driscoll.

      Second, the sponge story was at the end of the sermon as an example of something new he learned about Jesus on a recent trip to the Holy Land. I had assumed he got the information from a book, but, no, he got it from a tour guide. Kind of hard to check that one out, isn’t it? That also makes it even more tenuous as a source for a sermon.

      Finally, he did use the sponge lesson to reinterpret Christ’s work on the cross. Look at his closing prayer:

      And God, we come in some ways today, seeing our life as a sponge on the end of a stick, shoved into the mouth of the savior. And with those lips, we hear him say, “It is finished.”

      Jesus’ last words now come stained with human faeces. How could that not change how we understand the crucifixion?

  22. Micah Taylor Sep 27, 2009 4:27 am

    I haven’t been by in a while… hello everyone.

    I admit, Driscoll’s pretty off on this one. The wine at the base of the cross was actually more like a Gatorade cooler on the sidelines of a football game.

    This comes out of John 19 for those who haven’t turned to the source yet (which I suggest you do first) but have already started commenting, which states in v. 29: “A jar full of sour wine stood there.”

    It was typical for jars of wine to be at crucifixion sites for soldiers to drink from while they were lifting up crosses, nailing people down, and waiting out their deaths. I doubt they would have dipped a toilet sponge in their own water…

    I don’t think I need to comment on the false conclusion made by this interpretation, that’s already been thoroughly covered.

    I would like to say, however, if this is your first exposure to Mark Driscoll, you should check out some of his other sermons, and especially, his books (I highly suggest Vintage Jesus). I would not ignore him or completely ignore him. He has some amazing, spot-on teaching. I’m not saying these justify this clip, or many of his stretched exegesis sermons, but I would hope all of you would do some more research before you completely discredit him. He is a constantly growing pastor as Ron said. He started out with the people who became Emergent Village, and is now far from that organization and even explains his problems with that in his sermons about the Emergent Church and his book Confessions of a Reformission Pastor.

    Do I always agree with Driscoll? No. But I do have a level of respect for him.

    Also, Chandler is very much a part of the Acts29 Network and The Resurgence (both Driscoll-founded organizations), so that reference is an ironic one.

    I just think we should be careful when approaching national pastors. It’s easy for us to see the aspects of Noble’s and Furtick’s respective… ministries… because their communities are close to ours. When it comes to people like Driscoll or Warren, I think we should dig a little deeper than one sermon or a few twitters (tweets… whatever).

    I’m not defending either of them, I’m just saying PP readers should dig and form opinions of your own, not based on 2nd-hand tweets or 3 minute videos. I think the James’ might agree…

  23. Seth Sep 27, 2009 4:42 pm


    I have to agree with what you said. Plus Vintage Jesus is a really good book. I’m reading through it now. Love it!

Comments are closed.