The Role of Wine in Salvation

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.”  (Luke 5:38)

Wine is a big deal in Scripture.   According to Gisela Kreglinger there are eighty-eight Hebrew terms, with 810 occurrences in the Old Testament, and thirty-six terms with 169 occurrences in the New Testament.    The household during Jesus day ate three basic things: wine, bread, and olive oil.

God gives us “wine to gladden the heart of man.”  Psalm 104:15

Wine plays a pivotal role in our salvation story.   God’s blessing in the Old Testament is connected to wine.

  1.  The King of Salem (Melchizedek)  blesses Abraham with bread and wine (cf. Gen. 14:18).
  2.  Isaac blesses Jacob saying “may you have plenty of grain and wine” (cf. Gen. 27:28).
  3.  The promised land was blessed by God with famous vineyards (cf. Numbers 13:24)
  4.  Moses’ blessing of Israel included the abundance of wine (cf. Deut. 6:11).

Mankind’s goal was always to return to the idyllic existence of the garden.   The prophet Amos envisions a time where God “will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.” (cf. Amos 9:13)   

“Wine was given to make us cheerful.” (St. Chrysostom)

Jesus inaugurates His ministry with the making of new wine (cf. John 2).  Jesus even compared the Christian life to the vine saying, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”   When Jesus and the apostles observed the Passover, each individual was served four cups of wine.  Remarkably, Jesus states:   “I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29; cf. also Mark 14:25; Luke 21:18).

 Psalm 100 asks us to “Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.  Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are. ”  Alexander Schmemann believed modern culture was a “joyless rush…interrupted by relaxation.”    Jesus’ describes the feast where God’s blessing resides: “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”   

Jesus’ first miracle revealed mankind’s need, i.e. the need for joy (cf.  Hosea 2: 18-22; Revelation 19:6-7).   

The goal of Jesus’ ministry was to restore joy to Adam and Eve’s descendants (cf. John 3: 29-30).

Cyril of Jerusalem writes: “The savior comes in different forms for the benefit of each person, to those who lack joy, He becomes a vine, and to those who wish to enter, He stands as a door. To those who need to offer up their prayers, He stands as mediating High Priest. To those who have sinned, He becomes a sheep that he may be sacrificed for them. He becomes all things to all men, keeping what he is, in his own nature.”

God’s gracious gift of food leads some to their destruction (cf. Philippians 3:19) and wine in excess also is a road to ruin (cf. Proverbs 20:1).  May our daily prayer be Paul’s, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.


Recommended reading:

Kreglinger, Gisela H.. The Spirituality of Wine . Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.




Author: gbradepp

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