“When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’” (John 2:9-10, ESV)
In years past when I considered this miracle at Cana, I wondered why Jesus choose to do this as his first miracle. Why water into wine? Didn’t he know how evil wine is? Didn’t He know how much trouble this passage would give us? The fact is, however, that wine in the Scriptures was a sign of the peace, prosperity, blessings and joy of God’s eternal kingdom. Wine blessed the wedding, increased the joy of the celebrants and reminded them of God’s coming kingdom and of the Messiah who would provide them with the wine of rejoicing.
Now, many evangelical scholars have tried to say that the wine that the Jews drank in Jesus’ day was not intoxicating, except if drunk to excess. Perhaps it was not as strong as wines are today, but it certainly was intoxicating, otherwise the Bible would not warn of its potent qualities. And yet those qualities of wine are exactly why it was a symbol of joy: it gladdened the heart in a way that no other beverage could. Jesus had no problem with it. He drank wine and was even called a drunkard by His enemies (Matthew 11:19).
This is not to say we should all go out and have a bottle or two. Wine may be all right for some if used in moderation and never to the point of drunkenness. Perhaps it is safe to say that if it can be a problem, if it can lead to sin or cause others to sin, it should be avoided (Romans 14:21). For the rest of us who, like me, use it in moderation, we should never allow it to overwhelm us, dominate our attention or lead us to sin. As with all things, we use it as a reminder of God’s great blessings to us and the unsullied joy we will experience in His heavenly kingdom.