Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jesus the Connoisseur: He Got That Party Kickin'

I am surrounded by people (this is absolutely true) who dismiss Jesus' making wine at the wedding of Cana as evidence of Jesus' approval of alcohol consumption, because they says that Jesus did not make alcohol, but rather, grape juice. On what basis do they deny the alcohol content of Jesus' brew? Their rationale ties into the statement of the man running the party. After trying Jesus' impressive batch of wine, this is what he says:

"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."
Now, the rationale follows thusly:
A: Jesus made 120 gallons of wine, and if it was alcoholic, he would have been aiding in people getting drunk, because 120 gallons is a whole lot of drinkin'.
B: The "good wine" is non-alcoholic, because non-alcoholic tastes better than alcoholic.
C: Some argue that to make fermented wine would be no miracle at all, because new wine was harder to come by (since juice fermented quickly in the heat).

Well, in response to argument A, the moderationist agrees that Jesus would not have helped people get drunk, and so - assuming the wine really was alcoholic - there is no reason to suppose this was a small wedding. In fact, it must have been either very large, or Jesus intended to waste a massive quantity of drink. In either case, there is no reason to believe that Jesus was making wine for a small gathering.

In response to argument B, Jesus is in strong disagreement with the notion that non-alcoholic wine is thought to be the better wine. In Luke 5:39, Jesus declares that "No man also having drunk old [wine] straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." Clearly, if the headmaster of the wedding thought Jesus' wine was better, his taste would be strange and out of step if he actually preferred new wine instead of old wine. And let me also say, he would not be much of wine connoisseur today, either. In fact, they probably wouldn't let him be a contributing writer for Wine Enthusiast magazine. Maybe he could be editor for Grape Juice Quarterly, but I hear their circulation is very small (not a whole lot of demand for grape juice enthusiasts, I suppose).

Finally, I can only say in response to argument C that turning water into alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine still looks like a miracle to me. After all, water doesn't just turn into a pinot noir on it's own.

Get over it, people: the Lord God Himself made 120 gallons of good, moderate drinking.

PS: Yes, I did have to look up the correct spelling of "Connoisseur."


  1. One verse I always think about when people say that wine was non-alcoholic in Jesus' day is Matthew 11:19.

    Matthew 11:18-19 - For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

    So my question to them is, "Why would Jews of Jesus' day call him a drunkard if he was drinking grape juice?"

    For what it's worth.

  2. Exactly. It's one thing to criticize someone, to knock down a straw man, or to speak with hyperbole, but you've still got to have something to exaggerate from if that's what you're doing. It is no exaggeration to go from "he is drinking grape juice" to "he is a drunkard." The latter statement is simply a lie, not a misunderstanding.

    Some might respond that you that he is called a drunkard but that he didn't drink alcohol at all. But will they say the same thing regarding the "gluttony" charge? Will they say that Jesus never ate food at all? Hardly, unless they think Jesus lived on grape juice and water alone.

  3. But I'm sure none of the people at the party were under the age of 21.


Before posting please read our Comment Policy here.

Think hard about this: the world is watching!