John 2:1ff – The Wine that Jesus Made
When the Lord was in attendance at the wedding feast of Cana, the host’s supply of “wine” failed (John 2:1ff). Christ commanded that six stone waterpots, each with a twenty to thirty gallon capacity, be filled. The servants filled them “to the brim.”
Underline this last phrase, for it shows that there was no possibility of anyone adding some foreign substance so as to feign the appearance of wine. Moreover, the “taste” test clearly identified the newly manufactured liquid as wine indeed (9-10).
Many folks, upon reading this context, automatically assume that the wine mentioned here was an intoxicating spirit. Doubtless this assumption is made due to the fact that when we hear the term “wine” in our modern culture, that is what we ordinarily think of. In the Bible, however, “wine” is a generic term and it can denote either fresh juice or a fermented beverage; the context must determine which.
Underline the word “wine” in John 2:9 and in your margin write: See Isaiah 16:10; Joel 2:24. Isaiah speaks of the “wine in the presses” and Joel writes about the presses that overflow with wine. Obviously, the wine is what we would call grape juice. In biblical language, therefore, wine need not be an intoxicant.
The claim is sometimes made, though, that in Bible times there was no method for preserving grape juice in an unfermented state. Therefore, “wine” must have had some alcoholic content. That is not true. The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary cites ancient skills for the preservation of grape juice all year long. In your margin you may wish to write this note: See ZPBD, p. 895.
This question is quite appropriate: “Would Jesus Christ have provided some 120 to 180 gallons of alcoholic beverage for a wedding feast?” No one with any degree of respect for New Testament morality would suggest such (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 5:21).
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.