Culling the Word

Everybody knows that Jesus didn’t drink real wine. He drank grape juice in new wine skins that hadn’t yet been turned into wine. If you thought he drank the stuff that had fermented and might get a person drunk, you’re most likely intoxicated. Jesus was perfect and Jesus drank the ancient equivalent of Gerber (it’s just that innocent). That’s the Word I heard. In fact, around my house/church, even attempting to ascertain whether the disciples drank alcoholic wine or unfermented wine was suspect enough for a breath test

Ancient water jug - Cana

Remember that wedding in Cana, the one where Jesus performed his first miracle? That was awesome how he turned water into Welch’s. Right on, Jesus! Go on with your holy self! I mean, just read and imbibe, swallow, dig this miracle. John 2:8-11 “The he told them,’ Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”

I wasn’t aware that one could drink too much grape juice, or that swilling the nectar fresh from the vine could make the guests unable to tell the difference between expensive inebriates and the cheap stuff.  The Bible uses the word oinos for wine and early Christian-era writers called grape juice gleukos. Jesus made the ‘best’ drink around, better than the wine the guests had previously drank. I suppose that mean that Jesus skipped wine and went straight to Frappuccino, because THAT’s the best form of liquid refreshment, like, ever.

Then there’s this piece of criticism Jesus received in his time: “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Luke 7:33-34. Luke was saying, here, that no one was going to make the people happy, whether they abstained from drinking wine or whether they …. abstained from drinking wine? I get it now! :^/

Jesus cautions us against drinking to excess, but never says not to partake in the spirits. I pointed this out to a teetotaler, and she said, and I quote “I don’t care what Jesus did; you shouldn’t do it” (sorry, anonymous quipper!) I get it. I do. There’s danger in overindulgence. When you let any substance dictate your behavior, when you can’t stop, when your desire overwhelms your need. My next post will be about food – why we don’t see overeating as equivalent to drinking in moderation.

Once upon a time, and I know it’s hard to believe from all the love they’ve been receiving lately, but long, long ago, reading the life of Jesus as the life of a non-drinking crusader against palliatives was a way to promote bigotry against Catholics and foreigners, most of whom saw no problem with partaking in liquor. We still cull the Scriptures for evidence that everything we know to be wrong, we know because the Bible Tells Me So. Of course, the things we feel no conviction about (see overeating) was A-OK by Jesus. 

Some Protestants are still trying to distinguish themselves from Catholics and liberal churches like that by using grape juice for communion, exclusively. In fact, the symbol of the blood has been reduced to plasma in many churches I’ve attended – as they use only white grape juice. I understand; we wouldn’t want the blood of Christ staining the new carpets! But, Jesus never gave a directive as to the quality of wine to be used for remembering his death, so, I’ll leave it alone. (I’m pretty sure  the Manischewitz Messiah distributes on Sundays wouldn’t pass the quality test, either. It costs $5.99 for a bottle as big as my leg.)

To review, Jesus only drank grape juice that those inspired writers of the Gospels referred to with the same word as the word for booze (sneaky John! sneaky Luke!), Jesus was accused of being a drunkard because he was eating and sharing the grape juice with tax collectors, and if Jesus doesn’t seem to mind something we see as wrong, we should keep mining the Scriptures because the condemnation is in there SOMEWHERE!


8 responses to “Culling the Word

  1. That’s beautiful! I absolutely love it. I still feel guilty every time I buy a bottle of wine, even though I drink it for it’s antiinflammitory properties to minimize the damage from arthritis that I just know I am going to come down with.

    It’s a guilt born entirely of knowing my Baptist in-laws wouldn’t approve, even though my family, friends, and goodness sake, whole PNW cultlure endorse it wholeheartedly!

    Religious guilt is a potent force to be sure.

    Thanks for the laughs this morning. : )

  2. Nice post, but I would like to clarify one thing regarding the second to last paragraph. Some protestant denominations such as Methodists use grape juice because of their theology, not because they want to distinguish themselves from other churches. They believe that communion is an inclusive sacrament to be shared with everyone present, including recovering alcoholics and minors. They believe in consubstantiation, which is simply the symbolism of the rite. Grape juice isn’t even essential, let alone the brand or type. Communion for every church is the foundation of their theology, not some activity that separates “us” from “them.”

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  4. I came here via Stuff Christians Like, and I like your posts and your sense of humor!

    I’m of the opinion that drinking alcohol isn’t unChristian, for mostly the reasons you list, and my particular denomination agrees (whoa boy, do they agree…); I’m still glad, though, that my church provides grape juice in addition to wine. It’s just a personal preference.

    • We do, too, offer grape juice, that is. We also have gluten-free bread for those who can’t have that. It’s good to provide options and address sensibilities.

      Thanks for the blog-love!

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