Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine?

My Source: MarsList
via John Shafer * Kearney Nebraska
Author: Chuck Northrop
File Under: ALCOHOL or John 2

Did Jesus turn water into wine?

by Chuck Northrop

The obvious answer to the question, “Did Jesus turn water into wine?” is yes. At the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee recorded in John 2:1-11, Jesus turned water into wine. However, this question does not usually ask what is meant by it. What is usually meant is “Did Jesus make intoxicating wine?” And the answer is no. Let me explain.

The word translated “wine” in English ( in Koiné Greek) can refer to either alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine. At present, the term “wine” is almost used exclusively of alcoholic wine, but let us never be guilty of interpretation based solely upon modern day definitions. Consider these examples of the word “wine” being used in Scripture with reference to
unfermented grape juice.

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.” (This refers to grapes dried up in the fields which could not be intoxicating.) Isaiah 65:8 says “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.” (Alcoholic wine in the cluster? No, the juice of the grape while in the cluster could not be intoxicating.)

Jeremiah 48:33 says “And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting.” (The wine of fresh squeezed grapes coming out of the winepress is grape juice and could not be fermented.)

Certainly other passages could be considered, but these are sufficient to illustrate that the word “wine” can refer to alcoholic wine or simply grape juice.

“So, how do we know when it refers to grape juice or intoxicating wine?” The context in which the word is found will determine whether it refers to alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine. So, consider the context.

The immediate context of John 2:1-11 is quite clear. The guests at the marriage feast of Cana were able to discern between the quality of the drink that the Lord had made and that which had already been served. If intoxicating wine had been served, and people “well drunk” or “drunk freely” (American Standard Version, 1901) of it (verse 10), then they would not have had such keen discernment. Though the amount is not specified as to what they had previously drunk, if they consumed the six waterpots that Jesus had the servants fill with water and which contained “two or three firkins apiece” (verse 6), then they would have consumed somewhere between 106 to 162 gallons of booze! This is far more than enough to make the most casual drinker drunk.

Those who twist this account to condone social drinking say the term “well drunk” refers to the idea that the crowd was so drunk that they could not distinguish. However, the point of “the governor of the feast” to the bridegroom is that the guest were able to discern between the “worse” and the “good wine.” If it is the case that these wedding guests were so drunk that they could not distinguish, then the Lord made the six pots of alcoholic beverage for those who were already strongly under the influence, and caused them to be even more drunk! Thus, the “good wine” of the wedding feast of Canaan must have been the fresh juice of the grape.

Also, consider the logical consequence of those who want to use this passage to justify the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Their argument goes something like this: “Since Jesus produced alcoholic wine, then it is morally right for a person to drink it.” However, notice that their logic takes them further than most of them want to go. Since Jesus
produced alcoholic wine (as they claim), then not only would it be morally right to drink it, it would be morally right to produce it, sell it, distribute it, and make a living from it. But since that would most certainly cause someone to stumble, then it must be morally right to cause someone to stumble. However, the logical consequence of their argument would oppose the Lord’s teaching (Luke 17:1-2). No, the reasoning is a foolish argument that has no foundation in scripture.

Further, consider the general context of the Bible. Habakkuk wrote, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!” (2:15). The sin Habakkuk is rebuking is the sin ofcontributing to drunkenness. If Jesus supplied intoxicating wine to the wedding guests at Cana, then He contributed to their intoxication. Not only did Jesus contribute to it, He, also, condoned and encouraged people to get completely soused! Since intoxication is sinful, then Jesus sinned, and the “woe” of Habakkuk would be upon Him. If this be the case, then it would be better for Jesus “that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea” (Luke 17:2). As a perfect man, Jesus could not have turned water into alcoholic wine and offer such to others.

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 colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” If Jesus had turned water into intoxicating wine, then He would have caused others to look upon the wine when it is red opposing the wisdom of Solomon. Since, Jesus is “greater than Solomon” (Matthew 12:42), He would know the wisdom of sobriety and would not tempt others with an intoxicating beverage. Again, Solomon wrote, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).

“What, then, was the miracle of the wedding feast in Cana?” The miracle of Cana was that Jesus surpassed or transcended the normal amount of time and the natural process that it takes to produce and harvest grape juice. That which normally takes months, took Jesus but a moment. Augustine wrote, “For he on that marriage-day made wine in the six jars which he ordered to be filled with water — he who now makes it every year in the vines; for, as what the servants had poured into the water-jars was turned into wine by the power of the Lord, so, also, that which the clouds pour fourth is turned into wine by the power of the self-same Lord.” (As quoted in “Bible Wines” by William Patton, page 91.)

“How could this be? Did they have any methods of preservation of grape juice in the first century?” Yes. In fact, they had several methods. In the book “Bible Wines,” the author, William Patton, discusses four methods that the ancients used for the preservation of grape juice. One such method is to keep air completely excluded — a method often used today. R. C. Foster in his book, “Studies in the Life of Christ,” said, “A Greek wine ship of the second century B.C. found by divers off the southern coast of France several years ago contained a great number of wine flasks that had been sealed so tight that after more than 2,000 years the sea water had not seeped into them.”

With close examination, we must conclude that the Lord did not make intoxicating wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. “Did Jesus turn water into wine?” Yes. “Did Jesus turn water into intoxicating wine?” Absolutely Not!

Alcohol has caused and/or contributed to broken homes, every kind of accident imaginable, disease both physical and mental, poverty, and crimes of every kind. Since its effect is such, it is beyond my own imagination why anyone would ever want to justify its use — let alone mar the Lord’s perfect example with its production and distribution. Its use is not social in any way but is in every way antisocial. Its defense by sweet-talking, soft-pedaling, so-called preachers is religiously hypocritical, morally irresponsible, and socially despicable. It has victimized the unborn, children, teenagers, the middle aged, and the old. It has victimized business people and laborers, country folks and city folks, the rich and the poor. There is probably not one person who has not felt its evil bite and its viperous sting! It is beyond my reasoning power to understand how people who claim to be spiritually minded and morally upright will rationalize its use. Blood has filled our streets because of this vile beverage. Graves have filled our hills and vales because of this evil drink. Reproach has filled our nation because of this wicked intoxicant. Corruption has filled our society because of this corrupted liquor. Shame and disgrace has filled our homes because of this malicious booze. Rather than justifying its use, let us stand diametrically opposed to it for “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Social Drinking

  What About Social Drinking?

by David Lemmons

In our local paper there was some discussion in the section which encourages input from the community about John 2.  In reaction to that discussion I preached a sermon about Social Drinking.  That audio file is available for your listening by clicking H-E-R-E.  In order to download the file, be sure to RIGHT-click and then SAVE AS.  Please excuse the noise.  The recorder was in my pocket–I should have used a plug-in mike.

Living Waters

Living Waters: Jeremiah & Jesus

by David Lemmons

At Freed-Hardeman I once took a course in “Cultural Anthropology.”  My teacher for the course was sister Elsie Huffard.  She and her husband had done mission work in Jordan for several years.  One of the things I remember clearly from the class was the unusual appreciation she had for WATER.  She talked more than once about how valuable water was in the Middle East and how strange it was to her to see all of these homes in America with hoses spraying water out on the lawns to grow grass, just so it could then be mowed down.

When I moved to Dublin water was somewhat of a problem.  Georgia was enduring quite a “dry spell.”  The Governor was telling folks to take pride in dirty cars. This was part of a campaign to save the precious resource from being used for such mundane causes as supporting the vanity of driving around in a nice clean car.

I’ve made a dozen international trips to preach and teach the gospel.  During most all of those trips, I found urgent need to purchase some form of clean drinking water.

It is no surprise to me, therefore, to find the great prophet Jeremiah making use of a word picture involving WATER in an attempt to grab the interest of his hard-hearted brethren.

To read the rest, click H-E-R-E.

BSG 021-036


Study of Jesus


Lessons #021-036

These are usually 4-page handouts suitable for use in an Adult Bible Class.  They are tied to the passages dealt with by the Bible Study Guide for all Ages series, Unit 1.  These include outlines, commentary, puzzles, etc.  They are in the form of a PDF file and can be downloaded at my Evernote Shared Notebook by clicking H-E-R-E.  Look for Unit 1, Lessons 021-036.

bsg021…  Jesus–Genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38).
bsg022…  Jesus–Birth Announcement of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-38).
bsg023…  Jesus–John the Baptist is Born (Luke 1:39-80).
bsg024…  Jesus–Birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20).
bsg025…  Jesus–Purification at the Temple; Wise Men Visit (Luke 2:21-38; Matthew 2:1-12).
bsg026…  Jesus–Jesus’ Youth (Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:39-52).
bsg027…  Jesus–John the Baptist Preaches and Baptizes (Matthew 3:1-17).
bsg028…  Jesus–Jesus Tempted; Jesus Makes His First Disciples (Matthew 4:1-11; John 1:29-51).
bsg029…  Jesus–Jesus’ First Miracle and Cleansing the Temple (John 2).
bsg030…  Jesus–Nicodemus; John the Baptist Imprisoned (John 3; Luke 3:19-20).
bsg031…  Jesus–Jesus Meets a Samaritan Woman and Heals the Nobleman’s Son (John 4).
bsg032…  Jesus–Jesus is Rejected in His Hometown; Miraculous Catch of Fish (Luke 4:16-30; 5:1-11).
bsg033…  Jesus–Jesus Rebukes an Unclean Spirit; Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law; Cleanses a Leper
(Mark 1:21-45).
bsg034…  Jesus–Healing a Paralytic; Matthew Called; Fasting Questioned (Mark 2:1-22).
bsg035…  Jesus–Healing at Bethesda (John 5:1-47).
bsg036…  Jesus–Miracles on the Sabbath; Calling the Twelve (Mark 2:23-28; 3:1-19).

Perspectives of Jesus

SOURCE: Gospel Advocate, January 19, 1984.

Four Perspectives of Jesus

by David Paul Smith

The first four books of the New Testament are commonly known as “the four gospels.”  Each of them set forth the record and the meaning of the life of Jesus Christ.  Though their purpose is common in that respect, each of them has a unique perspective of Jesus.  We might say that each writer portrays Jesus in a different light of emphasis.

Matthew emphasizes the “position” of Jesus.  He alone records the claim that Jesus made, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).  As if Matthew wants to emphasize this point, he makes certain that this is one of the last points he mentions.  Yet, this point was emphasized throughout the book.  Near the beginning, we find some asking, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2).  Throughout the inspired book, we find reference to “the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew portrays Jesus as the King that has come to establish his kingdom (cf., Matthew 16:18-19).

Mark underlines the “power” of Jesus.  Merrill C. Tenny wrote, “Mark gives more space to the miracles than any other Gospel; for it records eighteen out of a possible total of thirty-five” [New Testament Survey, Merrill C. Tenny, Eerdmans, 1961, page 164].  He has power over disease (Mark 1:40-45), demons (Mark 5:1-20), and death (Mark 5:35-43).  His power is not without purpose though, “the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Just as the miracles his apostles performed in his name confirmed the message they proclaimed (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:2-4), the miracles Jesus himself performed attested to his claims (cf., Mark 2:1-10).

Luke draws attention to the “purpose” of Jesus.  Luke records Christ’s own words concerning his purpose, “for the son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9).  This is only reasonable since Luke’s work is continued in the book of Acts, the book above all that sets forth clearly the gospel plan of salvation.  The position and power of Jesus makes this wonderful purpose possible.  Isn’t it likely that on many an occasion Luke the physician (Colossians 4:14) marveled at the “surgical ability” of Jesus that could remove a man’s sin?

The last of the four, John, boldly sets forth the “person” of Jesus.  Most of all, we see Jesus held up as God’s son.  John himself declared that this was his purpose in writing, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).  However, in this same book, we see Jesus as a man.  He was “the word” that “became flesh” (John 1:14).  As a man, he knew what it meant to be tired (John 4:6), sad (John 11:35) or thirsty (John 19:28).  Jesus, though in every way like us in nature, was also an incarnation of God in the flesh.

The first four books of the New Testament declare the position, power, purpose, and person of Jesus Christ.  It is now up to us to allow Jesus to hold the supreme position in our life.  Let us rest confident in his power to save us, his great purpose.  Since he is God’s son, we know that he can and that he knows our needs, and those first hand.  Praise God for th epositioni, power, purpose, and person of Jesus Christ.

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Seeing and Knowing

Seeing and Knowing

By Michael E. Brooks

“And Nathaniel said to him, ‘can anything good come out of
Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ Jesus saw Nathanael
coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in
whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus
answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were
under the fig tree, I saw you’” ( John 1:46-48).

It is a frequent occurrence to have an email, a letter, or a
telephone call from someone whose name may be faintly familiar, but
cannot really be placed. The immediate question is, “Do I know this
person?” Obviously I don’t know them very well, if at all. We may have
met at some point, or they may have written or called before, but no
real personal relationship yet exists. I may eventually discover that I
recognize them in the sense of placing them with an identity, or in a
particular location, but this hardly qualifies as “knowing” them.

What are the basic minimum requirements of knowing someone? Most of
us probably begin with recognition of name and face (appearance)
together. If our memories can connect the physical appearance of
someone with their basic identity, we feel a little more comfortable
claiming their acquaintance. But we also are fully aware that there is
much more to who someone is than just name and face. We still have
little or no knowledge of their thoughts, habits, character, desires,
or any of a multitude of other personality components. Such knowledge
is slowly acquired, mainly through repeated contact and interaction.

This makes Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael all the more remarkable.
Upon first meeting him, Jesus announced his identity and character. He
proclaimed Nathanael to be a genuine Israelite and, further, to be of
honest and straightforward character. As proof of the accuracy of
Jesus’ perception, Nathanael showed amazement and wonder that Jesus
could know him so well. Jesus’ explanation was simple, “I saw you.”

Three times in these verses the verb “see” is used. When Nathanael
expressed skepticism that Jesus would prove to be the Messiah, Philip
told him, ‘Come and see.’ As he approached, “Jesus saw Nathanael.” And
when Nathanael was shocked at Jesus’ knowledge of him, Jesus replied,
“I saw you.”

There is a relationship between sight and knowledge. In the legal
arena, eyewitness testimony has great weight. To the scientist,
empirical evidence (i.e., that which can be verified by the physical
senses) serves as proof of theory or hypothesis. Of these senses, none
is of greater value than sight. We all are familiar with the Missouri
slogan, “Show me,” and the common though cynical attitude, “I only
believe what I see for myself.” There is a basis of fact behind these.
We often must see something, or someone, to truly know them.

God sees us. Wherever we may be, and whoever we are, God sees and knows everything about us. David proclaimed,

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down
and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my
path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways” ( Psalm 139:1-3).

He is omniscient, because he is all-seeing and ever present. Just as
Jesus saw Nathanael before Nathanael had come to him, so he sees and
knows all other humans. We cannot escape his presence or his knowledge
( Psalm 139:7).
But this is not a threat. It is rather a great comfort and promise.
There is one who knows all our needs and cares enough to help us fill

May we continuously pray as David, “Search me, O God, and know my
heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” ( Psalm 139:23-24).

By Michael Brooks (23 June 2007, 12:01 AM)


DRL Note: Great Article!

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