Jesus is led to Golgotha (place of the skull, Matthew 27:33) after Pontius Pilate's Roman soldiers mercilessly torture him (Luke 23:16, John 19:1). Arriving at Calvary exhausted and in excruciating pain, he is offered a drink of wine mixed with gall that is frequently given to those condemned to die.
Jesus, after tasting what the Romans offered him, refused to drink their bitter wine-based concoction. Why did he do this especially when he almost certainly was dehydrated? It was because he knew it was poison!
When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place), they gave Him wine mixed with gall [Greek: chole] to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it (Matthew 27:33 - 34, HCSB).
The Greek word chole (Strong's #G5521), translated as "gall" in the KJV Bible and other translations, means bitter poison. Its only other use in the New Testament is in the book of Acts. Peter, in his forceful rebuke of Simon (the sorcerer) Magus, used this word to condemn his poisoning of his own heart through lust, greed and the deceitfulness of sin.
But Peter told him, "May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought the gift of God could be obtained with money! . . .
". . . pray to the Lord that the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see you are poisoned [Greek: chole] by bitterness and bound by iniquity" (Acts 8:20, 22 - 23, HCSB).
Why did they do it?
The Roman Empire, which was hardly known for being merciful, did not give wine with gall to the condemned as some kind of liquid pain killer to ease their suffering. They gave it to criminals to render them lethargic, mentally confused and easily controllable so that their torture and death could be carried out as easy as possible.
Jesus rejected the Roman's poisonous drink, in part, so that he could die as man's perfect sacrificial Lamb "without blemish and without spot" (1Peter 1:19). He also needed undulled senses to fulfill several other prophecies concerning his suffering including his seven last words.
Jesus, moments before his death, did accept sour wine to drink after he stated he was thirsty (John 19:28 - 30). This liquid, however, retrieved from a nearby vessel, was not poisoned. It was likely brought to Golgotha by Roman soldiers who were known to imbibe such a beverage on a regular basis.