Alcohol or Grape Juice?
Next to "Thou shalt not judge," this is one of the world's favorite passages from scripture. Apparently it gives people the license to drink alcoholic beverages. I certainly do not believe that is true. Let me give three quick reasons for my point of view and then I will move on to a more important issue.
1. I don't believe Jesus turned water into alcoholic wine because for the 4 verses in the Bible that seem to permit alcoholic wine, there are around 100 verses that strongly discourage it or forbid it for one reason or another. I won't take the time to discuss specifics about the use of alcohol in Bible days, but it is clear that drunkenness is a sin in the Bible, and it is not difficult to get drunk on wine as we know it today. Why would Jesus create something that could cause men to sin, especially when He is the One who said that not only is adultery wrong, you shouldn't even look at a woman to lust after her...not only is murder wrong, you shouldn't even get angry with your brother? Would He then say that drunkenness is wrong...but go ahead and have some of this alcohol as long as you don't overdo it?
2. I don't believe Jesus turned water into alcoholic wine because it doesn't make sense that He would spontaneously create "aged," fermented (spoiled) grape juice when He could make it fresh and brand new (which would have been much more impressive, in that day, late into the wedding party).
3. I don't believe Jesus turned water into alcoholic wine because the wine represents His blood. For this reason, I also do not believe alcoholic wine was used in the Lord's Supper. If the bread was to have no yeast because yeast represents sin, and Christ had no sin, it seems like wine (the fruit of the vine) would equally need to be pure "wine" as it represented His pure, sinless blood.
Why this miracle?
But getting side tracked on this issue has caused many, I believe, to miss many other important details in this passage, like:
1. This is the first miracle of Jesus that is recorded and it seems to have began His public ministry (v.11).
2. The main reason for this miracle was to gain confidence and loyalty of the disciples who had followed Him (v.11).
3. There are several factors that made absolute sure this couldn't have been a trick.
a) The vessels were use for the purification traditions of the Jews (The Jewish Encyclopedia tells some of the laws regarding these man-made ablution traditions). These vessels would not have been used for anything else except cleansing, and it would have to be untainted and pure water (v. 6).
b) Jesus had the servants do the work, not Himself or His disciples (v.5).
c) The vessels were filled to the brim which would have made it obvious that it was not a trick (v.7).
4. There is a much bigger application to this miracle than Jesus simply saving the party by miraculously changing water into wine. Basically, there are three applications to this miracle that I have read and considered:
a) The first view points out that Moses' first public miracle (in front of all the people) was turning water into blood. Jesus, by doing this miracle, may have been drawing a parallel which all the Jews may have noticed (Not sure I buy this, although it is something neat to consider).
b) A second view simply points out how Jesus provides for our needs when we come to Him, and He provides abundantly and wonderfully beyond what we can imagine (While this is certainly true, I don't believe it is the underlining message here)
c) Here is what I believe to be the wonderful truth that we can apply from this message:
The third day - Resurrection day. Jesus rose from he dead on the third day. His resurrection is a picture of THE resurrection of the dead in the last day. Our souls will all live in Eternity, and we will stand before God one day and be judged.
The wedding feast - Eternal home in Heaven. Heaven is often referred to as a wedding feast in the Bible. We all have the opportunity to spend eternity there...but what must we do to inherit eternal life? Read on...
The water - The Holy Spirit. Water in the Bible is often a picture of the Spirit. We cannot have eternal life, nor can we live the Cristian life until we are cleansed from our sins and possessed by the Spirit. This is the only saving "baptism" we find in the Bible, and by being baptized (immersed) in the Spirit, we receive new life. We are "born again." But how do we receive this Spiritual baptism? Read on...
The servants - Ministers of the gospel. Faithful men or women of God must administer the truth of God's word unto the people. The servant has no power; they only pass on what they have been told. Through their obedience, many can learn of God's saving grace. I want to be a servant like this. As a preacher of the Word of God, I want to pass on something wonderful...
The wine - Christ's sinless blood. It could only be the virgin birth through which God could dwell on earth as the God-Man . It could only be the sacrifice of God's Holy, only "begotten" Son. It could only be the shed blood of the Promised One that could pay the debt that mankind owed for our sins against our Creator. When His body was crushed and His blood was shed, God's perfect plan was complete.
The governor of the Wedding - God the Father. The wrath of God was satisfied, and He was well-pleased with the sacrifice that was made. Now, all of us have the great opportunity to be reconciled to God. The "Great Wedding Feast" can go on! Only one thing is needed. Believe on Jesus. Do you believe He came? Do you believe He had power to turn water into wine? Do you believe He has power to forgive your sins and take your place on the cross? Do you believe He can fill you with His Spirit right now if you only call on Him to save you?
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)