The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 2:1-11 NLT
One of the more controversial passages in scripture because it’s where the debate over whether or not it was actually wine that was being served came from.
Most people would say “who cares” or “so what?” and I agree it’s not really that big a deal, but to those who stand firm that the wine was actually grape juice this is a big deal because if it is in fact wine, like wine that is fermented and contains alcohol then maybe the position that all of those people who drink said wine weren’t wrong to do so.
I’ve had this debate, more than once and I’m no master debater but I am certain that this is in fact a reference to wine and not grape juice. I have a few reasons to back up my position on this and not just because I like wine but because I like truth more.
1. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
If this was grape juice we were talking about why would Mary care if they ran out? It’s just grape juice anyone could go and make more, no big deal. Wine, on the other hand takes time and much effort. It’s not so easy to go into the house and get more of it, if it’s gone it’s gone.
2. Mary, the mother of Jesus appeals to Jesus when the wine runs out, why? In that culture it would not be customary for a man to go and get more of whatever ran out, it would be a servants job to go out and get more wine or grape juice if it was needed. In this case Mary could have said to any servant that the party was in need of more grape juice and it would have been done. But, if it was wine they needed more of and it was gone a servant, no matter how talented could not have accomplished that feat.
Mary, seemingly knowing the power Jesus has, asks Him about the wine situation and not a servant.
Mary knows Jesus has the ability to perform miracles because when looking at verse 5 she says to the disciples “do whatever He tells you.” She knows that something miraculous is about to happen, if not why the importance of doing whatever He says right now? She wants them to witness this miracle and be a part of it.
3. Jesus’ reply of “my time has not yet come.” That’s a strange answer if all He was expected to do was bring back more grape juice. But if His mother’s plea for Him to do something about the wine situation is that He is supposed to come up with more wine (of the alcoholic variety) then His answer makes sense. Think about it, Jesus was not yet ready to reveal who He was hence the “my time has not yet come” answer, it would seem however that He decided to go ahead with His mother’s request, why? We’re not entirely sure but it wouldn’t be the last time He went out of His way to help.
4. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”
I’ve never heard anyone compare grape juice this way. No one says this at a wedding serving juice, but they would say this at a wedding serving wine.
I can see how the train of thought goes on this, serve the good wine first and then when everyone has already had some, bring out the wine that no one will notice is worse because they’re all having a good time.
To say “you have saved the best grape juice until now” simply doesn’t make sense. Grape juice is grape juice, sure sometimes the mix could be better than others but it would never be talked about in this way. Wine would.
Ultimately, if you choose to abstain from alcohol, all the power to you. I respect that. I do not believe however that Jesus condemned the consumption of alcohol, unless we’re talking about the abuse of it, then He specifically said it was wrong but I have yet to come across any passage that says not to partake of any of it at all.
Drunkards are specifically called out for their sin, the occasional wine drinker or even beer drinker is not. Modesty is the key, if you feel like it could be a problem for you then by all means don’t take any.
And so there you have my two cents on the whole wine debate based on what John recorded in his gospel.
Hey, if you like my opinion feel free to let me know, even if you disagree please leave a comment and we can talk about it, and don’t forget to share.
I can’t wait to see what emoticon I get on the new Facebook feature….