People love to debate Biblical issues and one of the more popular ones is whether or not Jesus’ miracle in John 2, turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, was creating alcoholic wine, or just grape juice. Like any readings in the Bible, it can be up for interpretation. Let’s take a look at John’s account.
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.
Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
Highlighted in The Chosen
If you have ever watched Season 1 of “The Chosen” you will remember this sequence of events very well. Not intended to be precisely the way it was, the drama clearly reveals the intent. I particularly love the exchange between Jesus and His mother. His reluctance to perform the task, and for good reason, is quickly turned into acquiescence, because, I think, who can say no to mom? It’s a tender, human moment.
Wine or grape juice?
Now to the point. The word “wine” is the key to understanding what happened. This is not semantics or splitting hairs, it’s really quite plain. When the wine is presented, His disciples were amazed.
Verse 11 says “and his disciples believed in him.” There are many signs and wonders that will follow, but sadly the point of this miracle is lost in a battle of words. The Greek word used is “oinos,” a common word for ordinary wine, that is, fermented, alcoholic wine. The same word is used by the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:18, warning people not to get drunk on wine.
Semantics aside, there is no historical or cultural proof that the wine wasn’t the “good stuff.” Jesus created a normal, ordinary wine. Remember this was a wedding and clearly when the wine is described by the master of the banquet as being “choice,” the point is made. Seriously, would he have made a fuss for grape juice?
It was wine
Of course there are folks who really do not approve of the consumption of alcohol. They would suggest that by turning water into fermented wine, Jesus would have been promoting sin. They will hold that alcohol is inherently sinful and therefore Jesus could not have done this. But the argument is not Biblical. There are even positive references to consuming alcohol.
Ecclesiastes 9:7 instructs, “Drink your wine with a merry heart.”
Psalm 104:14-15 states that God gives wine “that makes glad the heart of men.”
Amos 9:14 discusses drinking wine from your own vineyard as a sign of God’s blessing.
Isaiah 55:1 encourages, “Yes, come buy wine and milk…”
From these and other Scriptures, it is clear that alcohol itself is not inherently sinful. Rather, it is the abuse of alcohol, drunkenness and/or addiction, that is sinful (Ephesians 5:18; Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19).
Jesus was not promoting drunkenness
Jesus was well within Godly limits. He was not promoting drunkenness, just as He did not promote gluttony when he performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Certainly wine can be abused
By turning water into wine, Jesus was not promoting drunkenness and He would not have been responsible for people making bad choices. The truth of John 2 is the fact that water was turned into the best wine and the wedding went on.
Drunkenness is sinful. Addiction is sinful. God’s standard is moderation and self control. Personal responsibility is important. God’s standards were in no way violated. He was glorified.