Tagged: wine

Wine for the Soul

This image shows a red wine glass.

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This is Part 3 of a three part series on Jesus and Wine: See Part 1, Part 2

The gospel tastes so much better than Chicken Soup, it is actually Wine for the Soul.  For his first miracle, Moses turned water into blood, the curse of the law turning common comforts into bitterness and terror (Exodus 7:14-25). But Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into the most delicious wine , the blessing of the gospel bringing delight, comfort and happiness to those who believe (John 2:1-11). The gospel of Jesus Christ is wine for the soul that lifts the countenance and brings good cheer to the heart. The gospel call has always been, “Come, all you who are thirsty, …Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost… Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2) The Goodness of God is poured out on us abundantly in Christ, who holds all the treasures of the grace of God (Col. 2:3) and from His fullness we have received, grace upon grace (John 1:16). And in Him our souls can feast on the the milk, wine and bread of the gospel.

Jesus Makes the Best Wine

I have always been impressed that the coming out party of the Son of God was during a wedding reception where He transformed water into the best tasting wine imaginable. The narrative of the wedding miracle is recorded in John 2:1-11 where Jesus Christ showed Himself publicly to be the God of all Creation who makes the earth to bring forth wine. Psalm 104:14-15 reminds us that “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” He is the God who made vegetables to farm for food, wine to make your heart happy, oil to give you a glowing complexion and bread to give you strength for work. And His presence at a wedding reception and His provision of wine bearing the Master’s seal of approval shows that we have a Savior who wants to make our hearts happy.

To bring the miracle into perspective, I did some research regarding how to plan a wedding reception and found a website which ironically stated Rule #1 in planning your Wedding Reception as, “Make sure you always have enough drinks on-hand for your guests.” The recommendation went on to inform that “The majority of parties and receptions run from 2 to 4 hours and you will need to plan on an average of 3 drinks per person for the first 2 hours.”

200 guests will drink 600 drinks in 2 hours = 120 bottles of wine

But Jesus goes overboard with his provision toward the end of the reception in Cana taking six water pots holding thirty gallons each and filling them to the brim with water before perfecting His wine.

6 waterpots x 30 gallons =180 gallons =  over 908 bottles of wine

When it comes to meeting this need, Jesus gives more than enough which reminds me of the immortal words of Matthew Henry, “His Supply is often better than His Word, but never worse.” Christ wonderfully supplies an abundance of the very best wine at the party’s end while the common practice would have been to bring out the good wine at the beginning of a feast, when the guests have their heads clear and their appetites fresh, and can enjoy it, and will commend it; but after they have had much to drink, when their heads are confused, and their stomachs are full, they don’t notice if it is good wine or cheap wine. With wine and with other substances there is a law of diminishing returns so that the first glass tastes wonderful but after a while you can hardly taste it. Certainly this is one of the reasons why Jesus models for us a moderate partaking of his gifts because He wants us to enjoy them as He designed them to be enjoyed. For when we drink a glass or two of wine we enjoy an unparalleled taste sensation which is accompanied by a happy heart but when we drink a lot of wine we only get drunk.

And certainly it was His intention that there would be some wine left over at the end of the banquet to attest to the miracle so that others would believe. I can imagine people coming for weeks on end to the reception hall to see and perhaps tasted the miraculous 180 gallons of wine which was perfectly balanced, crafted with a pleasing bouquet, rich tannins and a delightful finish. Moreover, if you had just witnessed the abundant and delightful miracle, you wouldn’t desire to drink to excess, you would anxiously taste and spend the remainder of your time praising the One who crafted it. Jesus saved the best for last, as He will when He brings the fullness of his Best Provision at the Final Wedding Feast where His betrothed bride, the church will be fully united to Him in the consummation of his Kingdom. For it is a trustworthy saying that, Those that follow Christ will feast with Him!

An Eating and Drinking Savior

What are we to think about our Lord Jesus Christ attending a wedding reception, an event where excesses are common and at different times in history, clergy had even been forbidden to attend? Some are uncomfortable with such a scene and salve their consciences by fabricating a history of an early weakened fermentation. Even if there were grains of truth in the claims, drunkenness still existed and Christians were exhorted not to be drunk with wine and qualified elders were not to be drunkards (Cf. Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:1:3). It was later said of Jesus, “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!‘ (Luke 7:33-34). At least during his public ministry as an adult, Jesus lived like the average person and did things according to the customs of his day. The custom of his day was that people commonly drank wine, so He drank wine and ate the foods he was offered. John the Baptist by contrast confined himself to a peculiar diet, and even abstained from ordinary food.

Calvin comments, “Those who think that the highest perfection consists in outward austerity (strictness) of life, and who pronounce it to be an angelical life …when a person will drink no wine ought to attend to this passage.” He argues that if the highest level of holiness is wrapped up in abstaining from wine, then principally, John the Baptist would have to rank higher than the Son of God. Of course, Jesus by His example gives us no license to indulge in luxuries nor does He grant permission to those who have been under the dominion of strong drink. While Christ accommodated himself to the usages of ordinary life, he always maintained a sobriety truly divine and He did not encourage excesses or unlawful behavior.

Christ was never interested in an outward form of spirituality and was insistent that it’s not what a person takes into his mouth that defiles him but what comes out of his heart (Cf. Matt. 15:11). The Apostle Paul exclaimed that his boast was the testimony of his conscience in that he behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity by the grace of God and that he was concerned that the some were being led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (Cf. 2 Cor. 1:12 ; 11:2-4). In other words, neither Christ nor the Apostle Paul gave us any room to create a Christian spirituality that was defined by what we ate or drank but instead modeled a spirituality of love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (1Tim. 1:5). Abstaining from one practice or another is not what counts, but instead what counts is faith working itself out through love (Cf. Gal. 5:6). When it came to drinking, Jesus encouraged a moderate and contextual use of his created gifts.