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By Chris Frost
contributing writer 

Weekend forecast 100% chance of wine

Grit and Grace

 

February 4, 2023

Chris Frost.

Recently, I was teaching at Mountain Bible Church on John 2:1-11 where Jesus turns water into wine. Speaking on the subject of alcohol at church can sometimes be tough as one navigates all the various experiences of others and opinions on the subject. I certainly didn't want to blow up someone's sobriety, and yet I still wanted to be faithful to the Scriptures and what they present as a whole on the topic of wine and how that helps us interpret this passage in John's gospel.

The Bible speaks about the dangers and the blessings of wine. There are, of course, people who should refrain from drinking alcohol for personal reasons. On the other hand, wine is spoken of mostly positively in the Scriptures. This truth may be hard to reconcile for Christians who have experienced forms of legalism in their religious experiences. In the Old Testament agricultural context, a good harvest of wine pointed to God's blessings. On the other hand, the lack of wine pointed to God's displeasure. Wine was a valuable drink for people living in the Ancient Near East in both religious setting and for daily living.

Religiously, the Jewish people gave wine as an offering and as a tithe to the Lord. In their personal life they drank wine at meals and in their celebrations. Psalm 104:14-15 and Ecclesiastes 9:7 tell us that wine makes the heart glad and happy. The Bible acknowledges the potential of wine to make life enjoyable. A few other key teachings in the Old Testament that help us understand the meaning of Jesus turning water into wine are found in the prophetical teachings. Some of the metaphors that help us picture in our minds the full blessing of Christ's future kingdom on earth are vats overflowing with wine and mountains dripping with sweet wine (Joel 2:25; 3:18). Wine is also used metaphorically for God's anger on injustice and oppression of the weak and vulnerable. God's wrath is pictured as a cup of wine that is meant to be drunk by the guilty (Jer. 25:15).

In John chapter two, Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding with Jesus' Mother. The wine ran out and Mary brought this to Jesus' attention. After some back-and-forth conversation between Jesus and Mary, he finally directed the attendants at the wedding party to fill six stone water pots, that were used for Jewish ceremonial washing, with water. Each of these stone jars held 20-30 gallons each. That's between 120-180 gallons of heavenly wine! Jesus then directed them to give some of the water to the master of ceremonies. At some point in this transfer the water became wine. The MC said upon drinking the new wine, "A host always serves the best wine first and when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine, but you have kept the best until now."

This miraculous sign manifested Jesus' glory and strengthened his disciple's faith in him. It also taught so much more. John's gospel narratives are layered with a multiplicity of meanings. The new wine in the Jewish ceremonial water jars points to the end of legalism and the beginning of Christianity. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law and the one who brought truth and grace (John 1:17). Jesus is the one who drank the cup of wrath on the cross for the whole world. He was rendered guilty so that we might be proclaimed innocent. Remember in the garden when Jesus asked His Father if it were possible to remove the cup? It was on that same night he gave the disciples the cup of wine and said, "This is my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins." The water turned into wine points to Christ's sacrifice of love for the whole world to provide salvation for everyone. The new wine points to the Messianic Kingdom that Jesus will consummate at his second coming. Next time you drink a glass of wine (or grape juice) give God thanks for His provision and for all that the cup represents spiritually for you. Each glass of wine represents God's unconditional love, his blessings, and the hope that one day God's desires will be executed on earth as it is in heaven.

Cheers!

Chris Frost is the pastor of The Mountain Bible Church of Tehachapi, and an on-call chaplain at Adventist Health Hospital. He is a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM) and has spoken at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland and worked on projects with Lexham Press and Kregel Academic and is published in Bibliotheca Sacra. His newest adventure in 2023 will be his studies in Oxford on the apologetics of CS Lewis. Chris can be reached at pastorchris@mountainbiblechurch.org.

 
 

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