Jesus was a wine drinker.
That’s right, the Son of God (who never, ever sinned) drank red wine.
On multiple occasions.
In fact, His very first miracle was turning water into wine.
Not grape fruit.
And the very best (finest) kind.
The water that became wine at the Wedding of Cana was actually the ceremonial water for washing. It was the one the religious people used to prove how holy and clean and pure they were. Yes, the same religious leaders who called Jesus not just a wine drinker, but an excessive one.
“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!”
The Greek word for winebibber, oinopotes, means ‘a wine drinker’. The Old Testament uses the word winebibber to describe those who abuse the use of alcohol (Proverbs 23:20). Since Jesus drank wine from time to time, this opened Him up to the charge of abusing it; but He did not stop drinking so people would stop judging Him for drinking it.
Now, if you answer yes to any of these 3 questions, then this article might be helpful:
Are you a wine drinker who can’t control how much is enough?
Are you a wine drinker who is being judged?
Or are you the one judging?
Talking about wine drinkers (like Jesus and I) gives me the opportunity to write about one of my favorite parts in Scripture: Romans 14. In it, the apostle Paul (who was a wine drinker himself) dared to say, “I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself.“
Those are bold words for someone who is trying to teach people the ways of holiness. It almost sounds like a motto for anyone trying to excuse their bad behaviour. The perfect bumper sticker for people who want to do whatever the hell they want. “Yeah baby, Nothing is unclean in itself, YOLO!”
But Paul says he is very convinced, actually fully persuaded to write this. And the word he uses is nothing, as in, nothing is unclean. And the word nothing means “No-Thing.” So I guess you could included: sex, food, drinks, medicine, thoughts, entertainment, religion, bacon, fun, and anything else that fits.
On top of that, this letter was written to the church in Rome. Yes, to Christians living in the capital city and epicenter of immorality of their time (What’s up San Fran!)
Paul should have been more cautious with his words, more selective, less permissible. As a church leader, he probably should have known better. “Wisdom” would have said they needed less of the grace message but more on the Law. But the terrorist turned apostle was following the leading of the Holy Spirit; and I am so glad he did.
The whole purpose of the letter was to give a direct confirmation of the greatest news available: Jesus paid the price for our sins. Salvation cannot be earned, only received.
One is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Romans 3:28.
Very Dangerous indeed.
No doubt about it, we humans are suckers for religion. We like the categories of sin because it allows us to judge ourselves as better than others. We love the feeling that accompanies the thought, “I’m not as bad as those ____________ (Homosexuals, Rapists, Muslims, Douches, Atheist, Fanatics, Drunks).
It’s part of our fallen nature.
We are still eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And like the ancient snake, we are still trying to be God.
So Romans 14 is salvation for our judgmental hearts. And in its words, I am being challenged once again.
If I am with someone who thinks that drinking wine is a sin, my invitation is to not try to convince them to drink wine with me, but literally the opposite. To honour their convictions. To restrain myself because of love. To choose the person above the pleasure.
And at the same time, the invitation is for the non-wine-drinker to not force his non-wine-drinking-ways upon me. To honor my freedom. To respect my Pinot Noir.
The whole point of the chapter is to ignite the reader, the believer, the Christ-follower, to stick to the ways of Christ. The Holy Man who turned water into wine. Because when He did, He was not making a statement that said, “Drink all the wine you want.” Rather, he was prophesying in His first miracle about the joy of the last day… the future Kingdom wedding.
That forever and ever, whether you drank wine or not, whether you struggled with lust or not, whether you suffered with addictions or not, if you just believe in Jesus, the party for your faith will be eternal in Him! And we will all be equally honoured, equally accepted, equally intoxicated with grace.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” vs 17-19
It’s possible to not enforce our standards on others while at the same time live happily with our convictions. You just have to stay true to what God has called you to give up, what He asked you to surrender, what He invited you to stay away from.
The question is not, “Should Christians Drink Alcohol?”
The better questions is, “Should I?”
Also, you’ve got to trust in the Holy Spirit’s ability to pastor your pastor, and your leaders and your family and your friends. He’s very good at convicting the sinner, we don’t need to do His job (we have proven to be terrible at it anyways).
Let’s love one another sincerely.
If your friend struggles with alcoholism, be his anchor not his temptation. If your friend is a social drinker, don’t judge, just love them, respect their decisions and honor their free will.
Let’s be honest with each other about our ideals and theology without expecting people to change because we feel like they should. Because controlling others is not a fruit of the spirit, Self-Control is.
Trying to change others is the perfect indication that we’re the ones in need of transformation.
I’ll finish with my personal experience… because as Jesus The Vine said, “You shall know a tree by it’s fruit.”
The less time I spend judging others, the more time I have to love them. The further I get from the Tree of Knowledge, the more I taste of the Tree of Life. The less I focus on my issues of sins (and your issues of sin) the more I see Jesus in us.
More and more I understand that this wonderful gift of grace is not permission to do whatever my flesh wants, but rather the empowerment for me to live in God’s holiness, to abide in peace, to find strength, to embrace His love.
And I think that was the whole point Paul was trying to make. That in the midst of so much corruption, depravity and dirt, God’s desire is for us to keep our eyes on heaven while loving each other here on earth.
I’ll raise my glass to that.
* Other verses to consider:
Ecclesiastes 9:7 – Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
Ephesians 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.
1 Timothy 5:23 – No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
What are your thought? Your reservations about alcohol? Your support or hate? Comment below.