I have given considerable though as to whether or not Jesus made fermented wine for his first miracle.
It is true that in Habakkuk 2:15 God’s word forbade giving alcoholic wine to someone else. says, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to the bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness.” But I would have you look at the whole verse, not just the preamble that says “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to the bottle, even to make him drunk, “ but to also consider the motive behind the warning that is, “that you may look on his nakedness.” It does not say woe unto him that serves wine at a party to make for joy and good cheer!
Here is the question, should we call drinking alcohol a sin and not only refrain from drink any but condemn those who do as sinners? Romans 14:21, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Please note how Paul uses meat-eating on the same level with wine-drinking in this verse. Why is it alright to eat meat that is cloven of hoof and does not chew a cud now which was clearly prohibited in Deuteronomy 14:8, “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.” Why would those who condemn drinking wine as a sin not condemn eating port just as vehemently?
Remember those who called the Lord Himself a winebibber because He partook of the fruit of the vine. Conversely, they said that John the Baptist had a devil because he didn’t drink! Luke 7:33-34 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! Note how Jesus puts eating and drinking on the same level.
Now to His first miracle, Jesus did made wine at the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee when they ran out. We know from the comments of the governor that it was not “grape juice”. The men had well drunk (it does not say they were drunken) and the Lord provided more wine. John 2:7-10 , “Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.”
They are those who claim that Jesus would have never made alcoholic wine because of the bane that is has laid upon mankind. That it is ridicules to believe that He would have done such a thing. To this argument I have two points to make, first it is not alcohol that is evil, rather it is the misuse of it by some people that is bad. To claim it is the “Demon Rum” that cause a man to drink away his life and kill a family while driving drunk is no more then saying, “The Devil made me do it” and removes the blame from the man and puts it upon a object that can never move itself.
Secondly I would point to the use of wine by the early church: Wine was used in the Lord’s supper and in New Testament churches–and some folks were abusing it. As is pointed out in 1 Corinthians 11:20-22, “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” Note that Paul did not tell them to drink wine juice instead, he told them to go home and indulge if that had the urge.
Today we call people with alcohol problems, “alcoholics”, and say that they are suffering from a disease and it truly not their fault, that God made them that way, I.e., in their DNA. The Bible calls ’em drunkards and this is sin! I Corinthians 6:10, “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess…” Titus1:7, …[bishop] not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;“ 2:3, “The aged women…not given to much wine…” (see also I Timothy 3:3, 8) 1 Peter 4:3…, “we walked in… excess of wine, revellings, banquetings…”
Thus I would say to you that it is not drinking alcohol that is a sin, rather the surrender of one’s soul to its pleasure that is the sin. For as Jesus says in Mark 7:14-23, “Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.’ After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him `unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.’(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”) He went on: ‘What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’”
Again in Matthew 15:10-20, “10. And having called the multitudes to him, he said to them, Hear and understand. 11. What entereth into the mouth polluteth not the man, but what goes out of the mouth polluteth the man. 12. Then his disciples approaching said to him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended when they heard that saying? 13. But he answering, said, Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. 14. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if a blind man shall lead ablind man, both will fall into the ditch. 15. And Peter answering said to him, Explain to us that parable. 16. And Jesus said, Are you also still void of understanding? 17. Do you not yet understand that whatever entereth into the mouth passeth into the belly, and is thrown into the sink? 18. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart itself, and they pollute the man. 19. For out of the heart proceed wicked thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, calumnies. 20. These are the things which pollute the man. But to take food with unwashed hands polluteth not the man.”
It is true that Jesus was talking about food in this passages, but fermented wine was a common drink at meal time in this era, and would it not stand to reason that if Jesus thought that drinking alcohol defiled a man He would have made an exception, like “ Do you not yet understand that whatever besides wine that entereth into the mouth passeth into the belly, and is thrown into the sink.”?
One last point and I will go to the argument for believing drinking wine is a sin. Are we under the Law or are we under the Blood? I was, having never been a Jew, never under the Law. My salvation comes from Jesus’ sacrifice not in my obeying of the Law. Remember in Romans 14:21 where Paul says, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything hereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Paul was not in these words endeavoring to put any bounds upon the liberties of God’s people for as he wrote to the churches of Galatia to warn them that some teachers were seeking to enslave them unto the very things from which they had been delivered. He counsels them to tenaciously guard their gracious freedom, and to refute those who bring a false gospel of works and rules. Because it is for freedom that Jesus Christ makes us free, we do well to learn what that means. When legalists seek to drag us backward into rituals, codes, traditions, and laws,”.
So what is he saying when he says, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine”? Is he saying that your salvation will go to hell if eat meat or drink wine? (Oh, and by the way, why has meat been dropped in this admonition?) No, a thousand times no! Your efforts cannot undo the works of Jesus, nor can your efforts save you. Your salvation is yours because God gave it to you through the blood of Jesus. What Paul is saying is, maybe if by my restraining myself from some of my pleasures that around those whose faith may be weak or nonexistence will not use me as an excuse to walk away from the Lord. Remember Paul said, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine” he did not say it was a sin to do either.