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Did Jesus Make Alcoholic Wine?

by Ian McPherson

The miracle of turning water to wine took place at a marriage feast in Galilee which Jesus attended with His mother Mary, and His Disciples. We read of this in John 2:1-10). At the feast, the wine ran out. and Mary, Jesus’ mother, tells Him about the problem: (John 2:3-6).

This furnished an opportunity for Jesus to perform His first miracle. He went to the servants and told them to fill six water pots containing two or three firkins apiece with water (V6). (A firkin was about 9 gallons) thus the pots contained a combined amount of about 164 gallons. Jesus then changed water into the best wine, which the servants took it to the governor. (V7-10)

This miracle has been the most prominent text that is used to justify the acceptance of social drinking of alcohol. It is argued that if Jesus made wine at a wedding feast at which He attended, then surely He he does not object to Christians drinking wine today.

If the wine that Jesus made was alcoholic wine, then surely no one could deny this reasoning. there could be no logical reason to deny that even Jesus Himself partook of some of the wine that He made, along with His mother and His disciples.

Christian advocates of social drinking are however very reluctant to support drunkenness, because they know full well the Bible condemns drunkenness (1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21).. But if this text is used to support moderate drinking, it must also be admitted that drunkenness is acceptable for the text says that the guests were “well drunk” before the Lord made the extra 160 gallons wine (John 2:10)

Unbelievers have no problem with the context supporting drunkenness because they picture Christ as “one of the boys” and the wedding feast like one today (i,e, a drunken feast), with people starting to lose their inhibitions and begin to be rowdy and flirt with the women at the feast, with some of them staggering around in a drunken stupor, eventually either passing out on the road outside, or vomiting all over the floor. This picture is realistic if the wine He made was alcoholic. The author of this article however does not believe that this is the case. The wine the Lord made was without a doubt non-alcoholic wine (ie. grape juice)

“WINE” IN THE BIBLE COULD BE EITHER ALCOHOLIC OR NON-ALCOHOLIC. Vineyards were extremely prevalent in Palestine, and the wine from them was a part of the staple diet of the Hebrews. Generally when wine is mentioned it has no sinful connotations. Wine could be drunk freely by the Israelites. It was to be offered to the Priests as drink offering, and abundance of wine was considered to be a great blessing (Deut. 7:13). The prosperity of the Land of Canaan was measured by the size of its grapes (Numbers 13:23). In His parables, Christ often likened the church (kingdom) to vineyards (Luke 20:9; Matt 21:28). He even likened Himself to a vine, and His father to a vine dresser (John 15:1-4) Non alcoholic wine (grape juice) is referred to in many contexts It made the heart glad and face shine. (Psa 104:15). It was among the “first fruits” Neh 10:37, it was even called “wine” while still in the cluster (Isa 65:8), and was “gathered” with summer fruits (Jer 40:10). It was "wine" while it was in the wine press (Isa 16:10). In these examples it is clear that the wine was non-alcoholic.

Sometimes wine was a blessing, other times it was a curse. Intoxicating wine is never used in a good sense in Scripture. Evil is always associated with it Wine is a mocker and deceiver, (1 Prov 20:1) . It is a deadly poison that men of God should not even look upon. “ “biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” ( Prov 23:31-32)The death penalty was imposed upon the priest who drank any of it before entering the Tabernacle (Lev 10:9-10.) The priests and prophets erred in judgment and vision because of wine. (Isa 28:7). Israel were not even permitted to give their neighbour a drink of wine (Hab 2:15.) Notice in all the above verses it is the consumption of the wine itself that is condemned, not just the amount.

It is not suggested in this article that God's people in the Bible never drank wine. It is only claimed that drinking alcohol is never condoned.. Man of God's people erred through wine. Noah displayed his nakedness (Gen 9:21), and Lot committed incest (Gen 19:32-38), and the context of Leviticus 10:1-10 indicates that wine was most probably the cause of Nadab and Abihu offering “strange fire before the Lord” and being consumed by fire by God, for it was immediately after this incident that the Lord made drinking wine before religious duty in the Tabernacle punishable by death.

Many sincere Christians abstain from drinking alcohol themselves, but say they cannot teach that the Bible condemns consumption of alcohol. This philosophy comes from a misunderstanding of Scripture, makes it impossible to stop the drinking problems in the church. Let us look at some Scriptural reasons why we as Christians should abstain from drinking alcohol.

ALCOHOLIC WINE ASSOCIATED WITH EVIL “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” --- 1 Thessalonians 5:22. It is undeniable, and statistically proven that alcohol is the root cause of the majority of crimes against society: such as road accidents, rapes, murders, broken homes, poverty, and divorces. It brings misery and shame to all those who become addicted to it. “abstain” means “hold ones self from”. Since alcohol is associated with evil, the Christian must abstain from it.

ALCOHOL IS WHAT CAUSES ONE TO GROW DRUNK Eph. 5:18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (“Drunk” in this verse is the Greek word METHUSKO which “signifies to make drunk, of grow drunk (an inceptive verb which marks the process of the state of being drunk” (Vine). The the New Testament not only forbids drunkenness, but also beginning the process of becoming drunk. It therefore forbids drinking, even in “moderation”, because the first glass is the beginning of the process.

IT DESTROYS YOUR HEALTH. Overwhelming evidence is available from various sources to show that alcohol does irreparable damage to the body. Especially affected is the brain and liver. Pregnant women are advised by many sources to totally abstain during pregnancy lest they send toxic (poison) to their baby. A Christian's body belongs to God (1 Cor 16:19-20). Thus a Christian who wilfully destroys his body is robbing God!

ALCOHOL DESTROY the CHRISTIANS INFLUENCE FOR GOOD. The disciple of Christ is to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt 5:13-16). What would others think of our “Christianity” if they knew we partook of alcoholic beverages? Even those in the world can see the inconsistency of a Christian drinking alcohol.

ALCOHOL INTOXICATES YOUR BRAIN. The Bible commands us to be “sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6,8; 2 Tim 4:5; 1 Pet 1:13). The Greek word for “sober” is “Nepho”. which means “to be, sober, temperate, abstinent, especially in respect of wine), sober minded, watchful, circumspect.” (Bullenger's lexicon). We can see by this that God wants us to be clear headed at all times. If therefore you cherish your health, your home, your influence, your soul, and your life, stay away from alcoholic beverages!!!|

let us notice in conclusion that the miracle “manifested His glory” and had the primary purpose of causing His disciples to believe in Him (John 2:12). If the wine made by Christ had been alcoholic, it could not have done this. Christ was sinless, and He is is the perfect example for us to follow. It is inconceivable that he made an abundance of alcoholic beverage for a feast already “well drunk” with wine.

Recently I saw a sign in a restaurant, stating the Australian law which places a heavy fine on anyone serving alcohol to anyone who appears to be drunk. I could not help but think how those who contend that Jesus made alcoholic beverage are making charging him with this offence.

Are you among those who have assumed that Jesus made Alcoholic wine for the feast at Cana? If so, then perhaps this article has helped you to see this in a different light. May God bless you in the further study of His word.

If you, the reader has any questions concerning the Bible, or wish to investigate the matter of alcohol further, please contact the church of Christ shown below,

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