Water into Wine

The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first Miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

In the biblical account, Jesus and his disciples are invited to a wedding and when the wine runs out. Jesus turns water into wine by performing a miracle.

Jesus the Polygamyst: Marriage at Cana

Contrary to current mainstream Mormon belief, Mormon leader Orson Hyde taught that the Marriage at Cana was Jesus’ own wedding, that Jesus was a polygamist and that the sisters Mary Magdalene and Martha were among his wives. This teaching has never been accepted as part of official Mormon doctrine by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is not held to be true by the overwhelming majority of Mormons today. Anti-Mormon critic Floyd McElveen argues against this hypothesis based on John 2:8-10 which states that the master of the ceremony at the feast (unaware of the miracle) congratulated “the bridegroom” for the wine, not Jesus and that John 2:2 states that: “Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding”, and one does not get invited to his own wedding.

  • On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 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.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
    (John 2:1-11)

This story highlights to my Baptist friends that Yeshua (Jesus Christ) did not turn the water into grape juice. The Master of the Feast clearly, said “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.”

Whether one wants to believe the Holy Bible for what it says (unlike most Baptists I know), the fact is that Noah and the Wedding Guests at Cana were drinking alcoholic beverages.

The Apostolic Fathers make very little reference to wine, but the earliest references from the Church Fathers make it clear that the early church used wine in their celebration of the Eucharist, often mixing it with water according to the prevailing custom. The Didache, an early Christian treatise which is generally accepted to be from the late 1st century, instructs Christians to give a portion of their wine in support of a true prophet or, if they have no prophet resident with them, to the poor.

Clement of Alexandria wrote in a chapter about drinking that he admires those who adopt an austere life and abstain from wine, and he suggests the young abstain from wine so as not to inflame their “wild impulses.” But he says taking a little wine as medicine or for pleasure after the day’s work is acceptable for those who are “moored by reason and time” such that they aren’t tempted by drunkenness, and he encourages mixing water in with the wine to inhibit inebriation. He also says wine [not grape juice] is an appropriate symbol of Jesus’ blood.

Cyprian rejects as “contrary to evangelical and apostolical discipline” the practice of some Gnostics, who used water instead of wine in the Eucharist. While still rejecting drunkenness, on the content of the cup he says, “The Holy Spirit also … makes mention of the Lord’s cup, and says, “Thy inebriating cup, how excellent it is!” [quoting a variation of Psalm 23:5 (in the Hebrew numbering)] Now the cup which inebriates is assuredly mingled with wine, for water cannot inebriate anybody.”

  • A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
    (Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

Basil the Great likewise repudiated the views of some dualistic heretics who abhorred marriage, rejected wine, and called God’s creation “polluted” and who substituted water for wine in the Eucharist.

John Chrysostom in a homily on 1 Timothy 5:23 stresses moderation and adds that the biblical passage in question is useful for refuting heretics and immature Christians who say there should be no wine. He emphasizes the goodness of God’s creation and adjures: “Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine makes not drunkenness; but intemperance produces it. Do not accuse that which is the workmanship of God, but accuse the madness of a fellow mortal.”

The virtue of temperance passed from Greek philosophy into Christian ethics and became one of the four cardinal virtues under St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. Drunkenness, on the other hand, is considered a manifestation of gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins as compiled by Gregory the Great in the 6th century.

This article could be much more lengthy (and tedious) delving into the Middle Ages, Protestant Reformation, English Reformation, Colonial America, Methodism, and the Temporance Movement.

At the Last Supper, Jesus and the disciples shared a Kiddush of wine.

  • And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
    (Mark 14:23-25 ESV)

Likewise, Paul the Apostle counseled Timothy cobverning the use of wine for his stomach ands other ailments.

  • Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
    (I Timothy 5:23)

The kiddish is recited over a full (brimming) large cup of wine. The wine symbolizes joy and the full cup symbolizes overflowing joy and bounty. On Shabbat there should be nothing missing from total physical and spiritual completion. Kiddush may be recited and drunk while  standing, sitting, or standing while reciting and sitting while drinking. There are a number of variations for holding the cup. Of particular note: place the cup in the palm of the right hand with the five fingers curled upward holding it. This symbolizes the five-petaled rose, the symbol of perfection, of longing for God (the petals reach upward), of the people of Israel.

The text of the kiddush can be found in the siddur. The first half is an account of the completion of creation on the seventh day (Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 2:1-3). The introductory phrase va-y’hi erev va-y’hi voker–“and there was evening and there was morning”–is said in a low tone. This allows the emphasis to fall on the first four words of kiddush: “yom ha-shishi. Va-y’khulu ha-shamayim (Friday), “the sixth day. The heaven and the earth were finished”the first letters of which form the Tetragrammaton, the holy four-letter Name of God.

After this we recite the blessing over the wine.

The second half of the kiddush recalls both the Creation and the Exodus from Egypt, the paradigm for all physical and spiritual redemptions and rebirths, and concludes with the blessing on the sanctification of the Shabbat. If wine is not available, the kiddush can be recited over the twin hallot [braided breads]. Simply substitute the blessing over the bread for the one over the wine.

Throughout the Torah, we are reminded of the great spiritual significance of wine in the life of a Jew. In fact, the Talmudic Rabbis saw fit to establish a special law with special regard to wine. Today, the vast majority of wines on the market are unfit for consumption by the kosher consumer. Throughout all the stages of wine production, the strictest Kosher supervision is required until the final stage of the actual bottling. There is, of course, the prohibition concerning wines which relates to the status of boiled wine. Kosher wine that has been cooked before contact with a non-Jew has occurred is exempted from the injunction. This prohibition stems from the historical perspective that boiled wine was considered “improper” to be offered as a libation to an idol (where wines were often offered by these idol worshiping nations). Such wine, (called “Yayin Nesach“), that had been offered to an idol was prohibited for Jewish use of any kind. This was a Torah-based prohibition. In addition, there is also a rabbinic prohibition which forbids drinking the ordinary wine of non-Jews in order to reduce social contact which could lead to assimilation and intermarriage. Such wine is called “Stam Yenam“. Therefore, if a non-Jew happened to come into contact with boiled wine, the wine is still permissible for an observant Jew to drink. Many kosher wines today bear the marking “Mevushal“, that indicates that they have been boiled. Extra caution must be taken with a kosher wine that has not been previously boiled (Mevushal), lest a non-Jew or Jew who is not Shomer Shabbos should come in contact with that bottle of wine (maid etc.). A closed bottle, even non-Mevushal wine, may be handled by a non-Jew. In its most basic state, wine is nothing more than fermented grape juice. The processing, aging and grape type used in each type of wine provide the countless variations of wines available on the market today. As we have stated, the basic initial ingredient in wine is the grape, which consists of water, sugar, acid and tannin. The most popular types of grapes used in kosher wines today are carignam, grenache and semillon. Today, the vineyards in Israel consist of over 40,000 acres and produce over 13 million gallons of wines per year. Currently, kosher wines are being produced in such places as Spain, Italy, New York, California, Israel and Italy. Besides the vital knowledge that the kosher consumer must have when purchasing wine for the enjoyment of the wine itself, it is also imperative for the kosher consumer to realize that often, wine and grape juice are used to flavor and color other food and beverage items (i.e. beer, pink lemonade, lite canned fruits, tropical drinks, cereals, etc.). Therefore, it is imperative for the kosher consumer to rely on competent Hashgachas when purchasing such complex items.

Disturbing the Priest

Confession is the acknowledgment of sin (or one’s sinfulness) or wrongs. It is a religious practice in a number of faith traditions. In the Corpus Christendom, confession is a sacrament practiced by the Catholic ChurchEastern Orthodox ChurchEastern Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Among most of these churches, the Sacrament of Penance is the method of the Church by which individual men and women may confess sins committed after baptism and have them absolved by a priest. This sacrament is known by many names, including penance, reconciliation and confession.

The Sacrament of Penance requires three acts on the part of the penitent; contrition (sorrow of the soul for the sins committed), disclosure of the sins (the confession), and satisfaction (the penance).

Religious denominations within the Corpus Christendom who practice the Sacrament of Penance instruct their followers to confess their sins to a man, but the Holy Bible reveals that those who have received salvation can appeal directly to God (YHWH) through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) to receive forgiveness for their sins.

David confessed his sins to God when he prayed and wrote, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Psalms 32:5 KJV) and “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalms 51:2-3 KJV).

The Apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Those who practice the Sacrament of Penance receive absolution (forgiveness) from a priest who claims to be the Vicar of Christ or acting”In Persona Christi,” a Latin phrase meaning “in the person of Christ.” Essentially, such a priest is claiming to be Yeshua HaMashiach’s personal representative on Earth and are claiming to be the mediator between God and man.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 KJV).

According to Roman Catholics, “The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as the second plank [of salvation].” (Pg. 363, #1446) and “After having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year” (Pg. 365, #1457). This doctrine essentially teaches that if a believer leaves the Catholic Church, they will not be able to obtain forgiveness for their sins, which means that their salvation is invalid.

The Sacrament of Penance is salvation based on works. In his epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV).

These doctrines are in direct conflict with the teachings of the Holy Bible. In his epistle to the Galatians, The Apostle Paul wrote, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1 KJV).

To some extent, most churches that practice the Sacrament of Penance also practice the Sacrament of Absolution of the Dead. Yeshua taught us that, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him” (Luke 20:37-38 KJV). Praying for the dead is not a biblical concept. Our prayers have no bearing on someone once they have died. At that point their eternal future is confirmed. Either they are saved through faith in Yeshua and are in God’s presence where they are experiencing rest and the joy of being in His presence, or they eternally separated from God, in hell and awaiting judgement.

Prayers on behalf of the dead have no meaning, for nothing can be changed by them. The Word of God shows us that the dead no longer have any physical or mental activity.  Solomon wrote, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 KJV).

The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13 KJV).

All those who follow Yeshua as Messiah and Savior need to read the Holy Bible. The doctrines and commandments of men are worthless. Every question to every detail of your life has an answer within Scripture. Be encouraged to listen to many teachers and ministers, but read the Scriptures for yourself and by yourself. Never trust, always verify.

Yeshua said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28 KJV).

The Apostle Paul wrote, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:9-11 KJV). There are no further works or actions required to obtain salvation. It really is that simple.

Can a person receive forgiveness directly from God through faith, or must he avail himself of a priest’s mediation? The Holy Bible is very clear, no priest is needed to mediate between God and man. The Sacrament of Penance and doctrine of absolution are not biblical.

Do I mind disturbing the priest? Not at all, not in the least.

No Soliciting

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 1:7-11 ESV)

The context of this passage clearly refers to traveling teachers or preachers working against true Christian teaching. Do not receive them into your house. Such a welcome would give the appearance of endorsing the false teaching. This is not a prohibition about showing the hospitality to sinners for which Yeshua was well known and criticized (Matthew 9:10–13; 11:19).

The Apostle Paul also warned against overzealous separation from non-believers. “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10 ESV).

It is rather false Christians (cults and apostate groups) that require caution and perhaps rejection. “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you”” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13 ESV).

The significance of the Apostle John’s call to reject any false teacher was heightened in a society that considered hospitality a great virtue. Hospitality, much admired in both Greco-Roman and Jewish sources (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8), was much needed in an era when inns could be dangerous and unpleasant.

To greet such a person meant to extend approval, assistance, and full fellowship. To support someone who is working against the true Christian message makes those supporting them liable for that person’s guilt.

The gospel is unchanging. Therefore, the Apostle Paul pronounces a curse of final judgment on those who proclaim or receive a different gospel. Even if one of the Apostles or an angel from heaven were to preach such a gospel, believers should reject it. Mormonism, Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses are examples of religions that are based on revelation supposedly given by an angel and that teaches a gospel different from justification by faith alone in the substitutionary death of Yeshua.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)