Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Water, Wine, and Grape Juice?


John chapter two has always intrigued me. Not only the scripture, but the explanations I've heard concerning it. You know the familiar story, Jesus and his mother are at a wedding in Cana when the supply of wine runs out. Jesus tells the servants to fill the pots used for purification with water, and then to take some of it to the master of the feast.
    When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
(John 2:9-10 ESV)
    This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
(John 2:11 ESV)
Party?
This passage causes so much trouble for some. First, Jesus went to a party. Our conservative sensibilities struggle with this. Booze filled celebrations are evil. Everyone knows that.

But, why wouldn't Jesus be at a wedding celebration? God ordained marriage and wants us to rejoice in its goodness, and celebrate over those who have been brought together in its union. It should be a party.


What was it again?
This next point is the one that causes the most controversy. Jesus made wine. Didn't he? This was recently brought to my attention again while watching the Duggar family's show on Netflix the other night. One of the kids were getting married (not sure which, my wife watches and I just happened to see this part). Anyway, while talking about the reception, the Pastor was asked about  the absence of alcohol and the fact the Jesus once turned water into wine. He then preceded to explain that when when the bible speaks of wine, it is in fact just grape juice.

Grape Juice?

This isn't the first time I've heard such a thing. I was listening to a sermon on the radio where the wine was explained this way. Jesus turned the water into wine, but it was new wine(grape juice) because it didn't have time to ferment. 

I was amazed by this one. Just how much less miraculous is it to turn water into grape juice as opposed to turning it into finished wine? Aren't they both impossible, hence the term miracle?
Reminds me of Jesus healing the paralytic.
For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
(Matthew 9:5 ESV)
A miracle is a miracle.

I'm not a scholar by any means, but while reading this passage, I have no reason to believe that the wine was in fact anything other than wine. The response of the master of the feast seems to make the point clear.
    When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
(John 2:9-10 ESV)
The reason people would normally save the bad wine for later is so that no one would notice it was bad after becoming drunk off of the good stuff. This new wine was even better than the first.

So why am I bringing this up? No, I'm not trying to glorify alcohol. I've written about The Drink and I before. This is just an example of the tendency we all have in trying to make scripture say what we want it to say. We like to have things all figured out. Sometimes we are tempted to just snip off  (or re-interpret) the loose ends rather than dealing with them. But, mostly I was just curious what everyone else thought about this.

Have an opinion? Grape juice or wine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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