SHOULD WINE OR GRAPE JUICE BE
USED IN THE HOLY COMMUNION?
One of the most popular tour sites in Jerusalem, Israel is the Garden Tomb where it is believed our Lord Jesus Christ was buried. While we were in the tour bus heading towards the Garden Tomb for our next program on the itinerary our tour leader Bishop Peters made this announcement on the public address system. He said that it was a tradition or custom for tour groups that visited the Garden Tomb to hold a memorial service of the Lord’s Supper in that place. He realized that our tour group was a mixture of Christians from various denominations and we observed Holy Communion in different ways. In such a circumstance they would generally divide the tour group into two. One group used wine and the other used grape juice for the Holy Communion. I talked with my sister Julie who was sitting next to me on the bus. We decided not to join either group but to pray together and read the Bible in remembering the Lord’s death. Other Christians also shared our sentiments and we prayed together.
Although there may be differences in the way Holy Communion was held by the two groups, there was much Christian love and mutual respect for each other amongst themselves. Holy Communion is supposed to unite Christians and not divide them. I would like to point out that regardless of what position a Christian takes in this issue I will still regard the person as my brother and my sister in Christ because we all believe in the same Lord Jesus Christ who died for us. It is my prayer that the reader will also have the same attitude towards me. I also pray that this article will help others to understand my position on the above issue.
What did our Lord Jesus Christ use in Holy Communion?
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. “For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, 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.” (Mt. 26:26-29)
Let us read the original Greek text of Matthew 26:29 and see what we can learn from it.
[ Please click on the Greek words for their meanings and pronunciations ]
Our Lord Jesus Christ had used “fruit of the vine” during the Lord’s Supper. In our modern language “fruit of the vine” is grape juice. In the original Greek text “fruit of the vine” is “gennema ampelos” [ gennhmatoV thV ampelou ]. The other gospel writer Mark had also written “fruit of the vine”. It must be pointed out that both Gospel writers were very clear about what they had written. They had both used the term “oinos” which is the Greek word for “wine” in other texts but they clearly wrote “gennema ampelos” in describing one of the elements used in the Lord’s Supper. Why did our Lord Jesus Christ use “fruit of the vine” (grape juice) and not “wine” for the Holy Communion? Here are the reasons:
It was during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Passover that our Lord Jesus Christ had instituted the Holy Communion. God had given this commandment to Moses: “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” (Ex. 12:15; 18-20). Why is leaven forbidden during the Passover? The Passover prefigured the supreme sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ whose body was sinless (1 Cor. 5:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:21). Leaven represented corruption and therefore symbolized evil (Mt. 16:6,12; Gal. 5:9)
As the unleavened bread represents the sinless body of Christ, so the “fruit of the vine” (pure grape juice) represents the perfect, pure and sinless blood of Christ (Mt. 26:28-29). It is also called the blood of God (Acts 20:28). Wine that is fermented cannot represent the pure blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Fermentation produces a chemical change that increases the alcoholic content of the substance that causes intoxication.
Wine is an Intoxicating Drink and it leads to Bad Results
· Noah planted a vineyard, drank of the wine, and was drunken and became naked. He even cursed his own grandson (Gen. 9:20-25)
· “Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Pro. 20:1; 4:17)
· Wine has the tendency to lead those who drink it to have these results – woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, wounds and redness of the eyes. (Pro. 23:29-30)
· Wine “bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.” (Pro. 23:31-32)
· Wine cause one to “see strange things and your heart utter perverse things” and makes one unconscious and insensitive to pain and abuse (Pro. 23:33-35)
· Watchmen (ministers) that drink wine and intoxicating drinks are called “blind and ignorant, dumb dogs that cannot bark” (Isa. 56:10, 12).
· Those who drink wine and intoxicating drinks are called “greedy dogs, shepherds who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, from his own territory.” (Isa. 56:11-12)
· A person who “transgresses by wine is a proud man who does not stay at home, because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied.” (Hab. 2:5)
· “But they also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by the wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that no place is clean.” (Isa. 28:7-8)
· “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; Lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.” (Pro. 31:4-5)
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the High Priest and the Greatest Prophet that ever lived. He could not have fulfilled any of these roles if He drank wine or any intoxicating drinks. The crucifixion was painful and they tried to ease the pain. “They gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But He had tasted it, He would not drink.” (Mt. 27:34) The sour wine is actually vinegar that we normally use in our kitchens for cooking. It is not even an intoxicating drink. Why did our Lord not drink the vinegar? Vinegar is fermented and it is no longer pure. Here is the reason why we use only pure grape juice for Holy Communion?
Our Lord Jesus Christ declared: “I am the True Vine.” (Jn. 15:1) The “True Vine” represents absolute purity and truth. On the evening when our Lord instituted the Holy Communion He was using the “fruit of the vine” that is pure grape juice to represent His pure and sinless blood. There was no fermentation of the grape juice and therefore it was not intoxicating at all. How do we know that? Just read this.
Elements are Prepared and Consumed within Hours
“Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, ‘Where do You want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?’ And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, ‘My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. Now when evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. . . . And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and . . . . Then He took the cup . . .” (Mt. 26:17-29)
From the time the disciples prepared the Passover that also included the preparation of the “fruit of the vine” to the time when our Lord instituted the Holy Communion it was only a matter of a few hours. The “fruit of the vine” (grape juice) that was used by our Lord Jesus Christ for the Holy Communion was still fresh and did not ferment yet.
Note: It is the normal practice in the True Jesus Church for ministers or church board members to prepare the elements of the Holy Communion on the same day on which the sacrament is held.
Drinking Wine Forbidden during the Holy Communion
“Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those that are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.” (1 Cor. 11:17-22)
If there is any question of alcohol abuse amongst members in the Corinthian Church this passage gives us the evidence. The alcoholic problem was serious because some members had brought drinks into the Holy Communion service. By doing so they have despised the church of God. It is despicable for any church to use wine or any intoxicating drink during the Holy Communion.
The Cup of Blessings
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16-17)
Why is the “fruit of the vine” called the “cup of blessing”? It is because our Lord Jesus Christ had taken the cup that contained “fruit of the vine” (grape juice) “and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mt. 26:27-28) It must be clearly understood that Jesus was not talking about His physical blood because at that time He did not shed His blood yet. After the Lord had given thanks the cup no longer contained ordinary grape juice but it had been spiritually transformed into His blood. There is no physical change in the contents of the cup. The grape juice still looks like grape juice and tastes like grape juice, but it is no longer ordinary grape juice. It has spiritually become the Lord’s blood because He said, “For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mt. 26:27-28) It requires true faith to believe in the words of our Lord. When we truly believe in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ then the cup is the “cup of blessings” because through our faith in His blood we receive the remission of sins (Rom. 3:25).
Partaking of the Lord’s flesh and cup of blessings that contains the Lord’s blood enables believers to have eternal life and be raised at the last day (Jn. 6:53-54). Jesus said, “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.” (Jn. 6:55-56) The Lord Jesus Christ explained: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (Jn.6:63) It is my earnest prayer that the reader will fully understand and accept the truth of the cup of blessings that contains the Lord’s “blood of the New Covenant for the remission of sins.”
May God bless You
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