Friday, June 27, 2008

Jesus, a Holy Bartender?

Not that it is the most important subject in the world, but I was stopped by a couple from church the other day while shopping. It seems that they had caught Jentezen Franklin on TV who basically said Jesus did not turn water into wine. He made a convincing case going through the Greek and arguing about how it would be wrong for Jesus to contribute to man's vices. Jesus had to have turned the water into grape juice not wine!

This is all second hand of course. I looked and looked but could not find the actual sermon online. So if I have misrepresented Jentezen Franklin then I am sorry, but this subject isn't new and it brings up a couple of good points. First, is it that big of a deal that Jesus made wine? Second, does that make him responsible for the actions of man?

First off, I understand that the Greek is a little vague on whether the word actually means wine or grape juice. I have to ask myself though. How could a large amount of people mistaken grape juice for wine?

Back in Jesus' day refrigerators didn't exist. So the thought of keeping grape juice fresh was out of the question, but fortunately grape juice can maintain itself through a little fermentation. Wine ferments in various degrees. New wine will not contain as much alcohol content as aged wine.

It is preposterous to think that a bunch of people at a wedding would mistaken regular grape juice for new wine. In fact, the wine was so good the host of the wedding was commended for saving the best for last! "Hey the wines been good but thanks for the grape juice! I can't believe you saved it for last!" Just doesn't make sense to me.

But the actions of Jesus cause some people trouble. By making wine wouldn't Jesus be contributing to people's drunkeness? Here's the way the argument might look. People get drunk on wine. Jesus doesn't like people getting drunk. Therefore, Jesus couldn't have made wine. If you know anything about arguments, this doesn't hold up. A more accurate argument would be. People get drunk on wine. Jesus doesn't like people getting drunk. Jesus doesn't like people getting drunk off of wine. This argument is more accurate and it places the responsibility where it should be. The responsibility for getting drunk doesn't lie on Jesus, it lies on the person drinking.

Let's not forget. God created the fermentation process. If you want to take it further, God created everything that contributes to alcoholism, drug addiction and any other addiction. So are we to blame God for everyone who has some sort of vice? Wow!!! Basically that is what we are saying here.

Let me offer another argument. God created the fermentation process that makes wine. Jesus is God. Jesus can make wine. Does that negate man's responsibility? Absolutely not!! In fact, no where in Scripture do I find a command not to drink alcohol. What I do find is God telling us not to go over board and get drunk.

How about this argument. God made rules. God gave man freewill. Man can choose whether to obey God's rules or not. Who is to blame here? Man! By giving man freewill He has placed the responsibility on us.

Jesus made water into wine, but the choice to indulge is ours. We can either obey God when He says not to get drunk or we can disobey Him. The issue here isn't alcohol! The issue is man's sinful nature. The very reason why Jesus came to the earth.

This sort of teaching is what starts us on the road to legalism. When we hear things like this we can become unduly convicted. I'm not saying the point of Jenetzen's sermon was to say that drinking alcohol is wrong, but that is exactly what this couple took from it. "Jesus would never make alcohol so why should you drink it!!!!" Wow!

I remember a story that was told to me by a missionary who went over to Europe. After church he and a group of pastors went out to a near by pub to get a drink. All the pastors ordered some alcoholic beverage except for him. American pastors don't drink alcohol! So instead he ordered a Coke. Well this generated some very displeasing looks amongst the pastor. After they were done a pastor pulled him aside and told him that Christians do not drink Coke!!! Why? Because Madonna had done a commercial for Coke!!

Let's not get hung up on all the little rules and stick to the two big ones. Love God with everything. If you feel that part of your love for God is not drinking, then go for it!! Whether a Christian drinks or not is not the issue. Going totally overboard is. If we love God we will be moderate people. Also we need to love our neighbor as ourself. If alcohol is a stumbling block, then we shouldn't do it, even if there is freedom in doing it.

Let's focus on what is really imporant, God. If we focus on all the little things we tend to leave God out. Didn't Jesus have something similiar to say to the Pharisees?

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