Did Jesus Serve Fermented Wine During His Last Super? 05/22/2012

by Moody Adams
The popular belief that "Jesus was not a teetotaler," but a moderate drinker of fermented wine who even "miraculously ‘manufactured’ a high-quality (alcoholic) wine at Cana" and instituted the Last Supper with alcoholic wine, has no doubt influenced the drinking habits of millions of Christians around the world more than anything else that the Bible says about drinking.

1. The passage says fruit of the vine, not wine
In the Luke 22 account the word wine does not appear. Jesus served the fruit of the vine, or grapes. John Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature also refers to the use of unfermented wine at the Passover meal: "The wine used would of course be unfermented, but it is not certain that it was always the fresh expressed juice or ‘pure blood of the grape’” (Deuteronomy 32:14).

A example is provided by the Jewish historian, Josephus, who wrote during the times of the apostles. Writing about the dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer who had been imprisoned with Joseph, he says: "He therefore said that in his sleep he saw three clusters of grapes hanging upon three branches of a vine . . . and that he squeezed them into a cup which the king held in his hands; and when he had strained the wine, he gave it to the king to drink." In interpreting the dream, Joseph told the cupbearer to "to expect to be loosed from his bonds in three days’ time, because the king desired his service, and was about to restore him to it again; for he let him know that God bestows the fruit of the vine upon men for good; which wine is poured out to him and is a pledge of fidelity and mutual confidence among men."

Those who disagree say they had to make fermented wine to preserve it. However they had several ways of preserving grape juice. One was to heat it to 150-180 degrees. This boiled it down to a thick syrup. Later was could be added to restore it.

2. Leaven was forbidden during Passover
During the Passover, which Jesus was going on at the time of His Last Supper, the use of any "fermented thing" was prohibited (Exodus 13:7) during the seven days of the feast, extended also to fermented wine.

3. Ferment wine cannot symbolize Jesus blood
The purpose of serving the Lord's Supper was to set an ordinance to remind Jesus' followers that He sacrificed His body and blood for them.

Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University, writes, “Jesus used unfermented wine at the Last Supper is the consistency and beauty of the blood symbolism which cannot be fittingly represented by fermented wine. Leaven, we have seen, was used by Christ to represent the corrupt teachings of the Pharisees and is viewed in Scripture as an emblem of sin and corruption. Could Christ have offered His disciples a cup of fermented wine to symbolize His untainted blood shed for the remission of our sins? Could the redeeming and cleansing blood of Christ have been represented aptly by an intoxicating cup which stands in the Scripture for human depravity and divine indignation?”
For more information: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/wine_in_the_bible/4.html

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