Christ’s changing of the water into wine is one of His more famous miracles. It’s also one of His most debated. Some folks absolutely cringe at the very notion of Jesus devoting a miracle to making alcoholic wine. They say, “It had to be grape juice because the Lord isn’t a bootlegger.”
The problem with that line of interpretation is that it doesn’t really fit the story itself as the Bible presents it in John 2:1-11. I’m not trying to offend anyone or create a fuss; I’m simply trying to let the story read the way it reads and understand it correctly. And when we do that we see that there are at least two solid reasons why we should believe that the wine really was of the intoxicating variety.
Reason #1: The Greek word the story uses for wine in verses 3, 9, and 10 is oinos. As we learned in the first post from this series, this word clearly refers to alcoholic wine. It’s used in Ephesians 5:18, 1 Timothy 5:23, and Titus 2:3, and in those passages it obviously refers to wine that will make you drunk if you imbibe too much of it. As we learned in the previous post, if John had wanted to convey the idea that Jesus turned the water into grape juice, all he had to do was use different Greek wording, wording such as we find in Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, and Luke 22:18.
Also, let’s not forget that John wrote under nothing less than the inspiration of God Himself (1 Timothy 3:16). So, if God wanted to clear up any confusion about the wine actually being grape juice, He could have easily done so by simply inspiring John to use different Greek terminology. At the bottom line, renowned Greek scholar Dr. Marvin Vincent, in his Word Studies In The New Testament, sums the matter up perfectly when he says, “In every instance of its use in the New Testament the word means intoxication.”
Reason #2: The words from the master of the feast make little sense if the wine was grape juice. He said, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10, N.K.J.V.). Now you tell me, what would be the advantage of serving the inferior wine later? You know. I’m not saying the guests would have been so wasted that they wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference in the quality. (To the contrary, the fact that the master of the feast could tell the difference between the first wine and Christ’s wine proves positively that he wasn’t drunk). But let’s at least admit that their moods would have been better and their taste buds more agreeable. Remember that the Bible makes no bones about the fact that wine makes the heart merry (Judges 9:13; Ruth 3:7; 2 Samuel 13:28; Esther 1:10; Psalm 31:6; Psalm 104:15; Ecclesiastes 9:7; and Ecclesiastes 10:19).
By the way, the argument that Jesus wouldn’t have made such a vast amount of alcoholic wine (between 120 and 180 gallons) for one wedding celebration fails to consider that a large Jewish wedding of that day would last for seven days and play host to dozens upon dozens of guests. Furthermore, the argument that Jesus making alcoholic wine would have violated Habakkuk 2:15 doesn’t hold either because the prohibition there is against forcing someone to get drunk so that you can engage in sexual sin with that person. Jewish weddings never descended into the realm of drunken orgies.
And so, in conclusion, these two valid reasons leave us to believe that Jesus turned the water into alcoholic wine. Now, was that wine as potent as the wine of our day? Oh, I’m glad you asked that question because I’m going to devote my next post to answering it. So, I’ll ask you to hang with me and stay tuned.