“…this is My blood which is shed for you…” (Matthew 26:28)
Ever since grapes were first enjoyed, their sweet taste has universally been appreciated. In their natural form, they have always been safe to eat as well as drink. When first harvested, they are considered ripe and have no addictive qualities. Freshly crushed, their juice remains unfermented for seven days or in some cases considerably longer. In this unfermented state, new wine, like fresh bread, can be enjoyed by everyone.
While teaching the Apostles during their parting meal, the Lord referred to the beverage in His cup as the “…fruit of the vine…” (Mark 14:25) This final meal took place in an upper room in Jerusalem where they all met together to celebrate the Passover (see Matthew 26:17-18). This was the annual time period when leavened bread was not allowed to be present in a Hebrew home. These sacred days of remembrance had been faithfully observed since the time of Moses. The first Passover took place to facilitate Israel’s memorable exodus from Egypt. The Bible says, “I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:7)
Heaven’s Savior often used symbolism to help His disciples later understand His spiritual teaching. This did not fully take place until after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit had come to teach them. To explain this Jesus said, “… the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
At the last supper, Jesus used symbolism saying, “…this is My body which is broken for you…” As He was speaking, He literally broke the unleavened bread while the twelve were watching. Next, while pouring from His cup, He explained, “…this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” This was spoken as they passed the cup and each sipped what He called the “…fruit of the vine…” (Mark 14:22–24; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26)
Though they did not yet understand the meaning behind the Lord’s actions or words, He was speaking to them about not drinking with them again until after – His resurrection, ascension, and the second coming. He clearly explained, “…I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s Kingdom…” (Matthew 26:29) Unquestionably, He was preparing them for His imminent departure, but He was also teaching them about the future!
Our risen Savior drank nothing of any kind after His resurrection. He only ate bread, broiled fish, and honeycomb on the occasions when He met with His disciples. This took place during the 40 days prior to His ascension (see Luke 24:41-43). Note the words not and new in the following verse. Jesus said, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29) Also note the Lord’s prophecy. He explained that He would drink with them again in His Father’s Kingdom. He is most likely referring to His 1000-year reign on the new earth described by the Apostle John (see Revelation 20:1-7).
Notice that Jesus never told the Apostles that He would be drinking wine with them. Understandably, this is a common misconception. Instead, He very specifically said that He would be drinking, “the fruit of the vine” with them. This simply describes drinking of any type of vine-based beverage with them. Only time will tell if the Lord was actually speaking about this taking place during the Millennium. It could equally be a purely symbolic spiritual reference to fellowship with them later in His Father’s eternal heavenly Kingdom.
The words unleavened and unfermented refer to the same natural state – so the Biblical expression “new wine” used in the Lord’s widely-known parable clearly means unfermented. The Bible explains, “…no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)
In vivid contrast to new unfermented wine, twice in the Scriptures believers are instructed to utilize either wine or strong drink for medical purposes (Proverb 31:6 and 1 Timothy 5:23). In both such cases, it is fully evident that fermented beverages are being prescribed. Sweet, new wine tastes delicious but without fermentation and has no medicinal benefit. As we know, during Biblical times, running stream water was not safe to drink. Therefore, fruit juice was widely available and could be safely enjoyed by everyone. Water wells were also greatly valued and passed down from one generation to the next (see Genesis 26:15-22).
In the several Old Testament references to fermented wine and hard liquor, Scripture principally provides warnings by repeatedly describing the danger of their addictive nature (see Leviticus 10:9, Jeremiah 35:6-8, Hosea 4:11, Habakkuk 2:4-5, Proverb 21:17; 23:35; 31:4-7).
King Solomon writes, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)
Unquestionably, our Lord drank wine and turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana (see John 2:1-11) but whether the wine He made was immediately created in a fermented condition or was simply the best tasting new unfermented wine which the guests had previously tasted – will forever remain a mystery. If He deems it important, He may someday provide this answer as we enjoy new wine with Him in His Father’s kingdom!
By Billie Hanks Jr.