Alcohol was a medicinal, and the wine Timothy drank was so diluted that it was not an intoxicant.
With regards to the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine we must carefully examine not only the context of the story, but its symbolic meaning. There was a wedding at Cana of Galilee to which Jesus and His disciples were invited. His mother (who was also in attendance) came to Him saying there was no more wine. Marriage feasts in those days lasted up to a week and it was the groom’s responsibility to provide his guests with wine. Mary understood that running out of wine would be an embarrassment to the groom’s family so she approached Jesus with this problem, and He delivered an interesting response
Woman (not a derisive term), what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come (Jn 2:4).
Of course, His hour, was a reference to the Cross. We might recall that there was a jar of sour wine at the foot of the Cross; and when Jesus said, I thirst, the guard dipped a sponge into the jar and raised it to His mouth (Jn 19:29).
(When framed within the context of the crucifixion we can glean so much more from the miracle of turning water into wine.)
So it was at the wedding feast that Christ told the servants to fill the stone water pots with water. (There were six pots each holding 20-30 gallons of water.) What did Jesus say about Himself? That He was the Living Water:
…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life (Jn 4:14).
It was during the Feast of Booths (or at the ingathering of the grape harvest) that the disciples of Jesus entered the city to celebrate, but Christ would not enter because the Pharisees had sought to kill Him, and it was not yet His time. However, in the midst of the festival, Christ secretly entered the city and began teaching in the temple. On the last (8th) day of the feast He proclaimed:
If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water (Jn 7:37-38).
The stone water pots (at the wedding feast) stored water that was used for the Jewish custom of purification. Jesus Christ is our justification and sanctification; and the water that was turned into wine represented His blood shed for the sins of the world. When we drink the fruit of the grape at Communion we are recognizing the washing and regeneration by the precious blood of the Lamb:
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood (Lk 22:20).
So, the miracle of turning water into wine was symbolic of the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Living Water and the Passover Lamb slain for the sins of the world. It also gives us insight into the response to His mother, My hour has not yet come.
It is our belief that the wine Jesus made was non-alcoholic. There are two Hebrew words for wine used in the Bible: tirosh and yayin.
Noah, in his tent, was drunken of (wine) yayin (Ge 9:21). Lot’s daughters made him drunk with (wine) yayin so that they could sleep with him (Ge 19:32). The Levites were commanded not to drink (strong wine or strong drink) yayin, when they entered the tabernacle (Lv 10:9). (Wine) yayin is a mocker and deceiver (Pr 20:1). Kings are advised to not drink (wine) yayin or (strong drink) shakar (Pr 31:4-5).
But to those who are perishing it is permissible to offer wine or strong drink to ease their pain and suffering (Pr 31:6). And isn’t that why people drink, anyway, to self-medicate their fear, worry, anxiety, trouble, emptiness, loneliness and doubt?
The child of God is commanded to be anxious for nothing (Php 4:6), and to be not worried about life (Mt 6:25).
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2Ti 1:7).
And Christ consoled His disciples with these words:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (Jn 14:27).
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Php 4:7).
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love (1Jn 4:18).
The one who drinks from a bottle is drinking fear not cheer in contrast with those who drink from the cup of Christ which is love, peace and joy.
Now, we said earlier that in the Hebrew there are several words for wine, or strong drink: yayin, or fermented wine, and shakar which is a stronger drink made of fermented dates. Another word for wine is tirosh which is an unfermented, non-alcoholic grape juice.
Tirosh is the wine that Jesus made from water. Considering that the wedding party had emptied the wine barrels it was not likely that our Lord produced 180 gallons of fermented wine that would leave the already tipsy guests unable to stand.
Unleavened wine, or grape juice, is very sweet compared to the sour, vinegar-tasting wine that was served the wedding guests. When the headwaiter tasted the water that was turned to wine he said to the bridegroom:
Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now (Jn 2:10).
Jesus Christ did not serve fermented wine at the Passover meal. Leaven (a yeast agent used in the baking of bread and wine fermentation) was removed from Jewish homes during Passover as a reminder of their exodus from Egypt (they left in such a hurry that the bread they baked hadn’t time to rise).
Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land (Ex 12:19).
The B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) represents leaven as pride, sin and false teaching.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough (1Co 5:6)?
At the Last Supper, Christ passed to His disciples a cup of unleavened grape juice (tirosh) which represented His sinless blood sacrifice. In Him there was no (leaven) sin. Paul said that some were sick and others died because they did not examine themselves and properly discern the blood and body of our Lord:
For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep (1Co 11:29-30).
The Bible condemns drunkenness. Our Lord did not turn water into fermented wine (yayin) nor did He drink alcohol. That lightheaded buzz is not the quenching of your thirst, but the shrinking of your brain as alcohol dehydrates the body.
Maybe you take a glass of wine with your evening meal. Paul wrote that all things are lawful (within the bounds of Christian liberty), but not all things edify (1Co 10:23). Our liberty ends when it causes a brother to stumble. Suppose there is a member in your church who is a recovering alcoholic, or maybe they have a problem with pornography, and they see you going into a bar, or an R-rated movie, and it causes them to sin. My brother, you have committed the greater transgression by causing your weaker brother to fall.
Paul said that we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength (Ro 15:1). We are to deny ourselves for the sake of our weaker brothers even as Christ denied Himself for our sake. That simply means we don’t drink the glass of wine if it’s going to cause harm to our brother.
Aabid was a member of the local Chaldean assembly. His family escaped Iraq during the brutal reign of Saddam Hussein who tortuously persecuted the Christian community. Aabid drove a taxi to support his family. One night he stopped at a gas station to fuel up and buy a cup of coffee. He was a block away from the gas station when his taxi was broadsided by an SUV that ran a stop sign at 55 mph. The sound of the collision roared through the quiet residential neighborhood. The driver of the SUV (who had a prior conviction for drunk driving) fled the scene, but was later apprehended by the police who conducted a sobriety test which the driver failed.
Aabid died instantly. His family arrived on the scene and held a vigil all night long in prayer and mourning.
How many lives have been destroyed because of alcohol (drugs)? How many jobs have been lost? How many families have been torn apart?
How many, Lord, we pray Thee?
Oh, you might say I’m only a social drinker. We can deceive ourselves, and we can lie to ourselves, and we can make excuses; but we cannot hide our heart from God. Do you buy into the world’s party attitude towards alcohol and drugs?
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).
To the parents who read this we pray that your children are not spring breaking their way into judgement. It is your responsibility to bring up your child in the way of the LORD:
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Pr 22:6).
We pray that your family attended church on this St. Patrick’s Sunday; and not a neighborhood pub drinking themselves senseless.
We pray for sobriety and faithfulness even as God has been abundantly faithful to us.
Alcohol is the devil’s brew.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise (Pr 20:1).
Be not deceived. That buzz you get is, in fact, a level of intoxication.
And, remember this, sinners drink from the intoxicating cup of Satan, but the righteous drink from the sanctifying cup of Christ.
You won’t find the power of God in a six-pack. Put down that glass, cork that bottle and be filled instead with the Holy Spirit.
Suggested Reading: Did Jesus Make Alcoholic Wine?
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