Did Jesus turn water to wine?

Published 9:13 am Friday, May 19, 2017

At the marriage feast of Cana, Jesus did turn water into wine (John 2:1-11). However, the real question behind the scene is did Jesus make intoxicating wine? The answer to this question is a resounding no.
In our modern day the word wine almost always refers to alcoholic drink. However in the original (Greek) the word translated wine can refer to either alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine. One of the most dangerous and inappropriate ways of interpreting the scriptures is doing so based solely on modern day definitions.
We have in the Bible, scripture references which show the word wine being used in reference to unfermented grape juice or even the grapes on the vine. Joel 1:10 says “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.” (Joel is referring to grapes dried up in the fields which could not be intoxicating). Isaiah wrote, “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all (Isaiah 65:8).” (Here the wine is in the field on the vine and could not be alcoholic wine. These alone show the fallibility of designating intoxication wine to every case in the scriptures. (See also Jeremiah 48:33).
The proper method of determining the meaning of the word wine in John 2 is by the context. In the context of John 2:1-11 the guests are at the marriage feast of Cana and amazingly they are able to distinguish the wine Jesus made from that which they had previously been served. This would have been unlikely if the wine at the feast was alcoholic, seeing that the participants had freely drank. Most who view the wine at the feast as alcoholic do so in order to condone the use of alcohol in their personal lives. One could ask how much wine had the participants already drank; if they drank the six pots Jesus requested be filled with water they would have already consumed more than one hundred gallons of drink. Surely this is enough to make them drunk and unable to discern one drink from another. This is one reason we may determine that the wine at the wedding feast was non-alcoholic.
Next, we must then agree that (if) Jesus made alcoholic beverage to serve to the guests, then it would be morally and ethically proper to drink it. But, we must also agree that it would be morally and ethically proper to produce and distribute the same drink for profit. The production, distribution and consumption of this drink certainly causes some to sin. Therefore, we must conclude that it is morally proper to cause someone to stumble and sin. Certainly the previous argument is without merit, considering Jesus taught that we should not cause another to stumble (Matt. 18:7, Luke 17:1-2). This type of reasoning has no merit, and the argument that Jesus made intoxicating wine is without merit assigning the same evil to Deity as the drink itself possesses.
Next, we must remember the nature of Deity as opposed to the nature of sin. We learn in Habakkuk 2:15 that it is a sin to cause another to become drunk as some suppose happened at the marriage feast. If Jesus produced alcoholic beverage He certainly contributed to drunkenness; this would have been a sin. But according to the scriptures Jesus did not sin (2 Cor. 5:21). The assumption that Jesus produced alcohol demands that Jesus also condones our making the same for daily human consumption; this stands in opposition to other passages that clearly teach that such use is sinful.
Another passage to consider in this context is Proverbs 23:31-32 which says, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” If Jesus was involved in making intoxicating wine He would have caused others to look upon the wine when it is red opposing the wisdom of Solomon. What does this say about the wisdom of Jesus? Also we learn in Proverbs 20:1, that, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
Next week’s article will continue to look at the miracle at Cana of Galilee performed by Jesus.
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ. He can be contacted at 423-737-2287 or e-mail CenterviewCOC@comcast.net)

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