Have you ever thought about Jesus’ inaugural miracle? He changes water into wine to save a wedding banquet. But why?
The water was in six stone jars, which represent the six days of creation and the party was on the seventh day, which represents the finished creation. The jars contained water for purification, which clearly represents the law. It’s like Jesus is saying, “I have come to fill all space and time with wine from the seventh day and fully fill all the law with an intoxicating Spirit which will fuel a wedding party that is eternal.
He came to fulfill the law—to fill our broken judgment, which fails, with His Judgment.
Have you noticed that our judgment is flawed? We struggle to judge well, even with the law as our guide. Just think about it: we would probably judge Jesus’ first miracle as bad. I mean really? A “holy” person turning water into wine so He could give more wine to an already tipsy crowd? We would probably judge that as “not good” and unsafe. We might even think it’s a good idea to outlaw alcohol—just to be “safe”, but, technically speaking, if we did that, we’d outlaw communion–the blood of Jesus.
So, it appears Jesus is okay with wine—even if we are not.
And yet, look at this passage straight from Scripture:
Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery…”, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. —Ephesians 5:18-21
So, scripture says, “Don’t be drunk with wine.” That’s pretty clear.
And yet, Jesus is okay with wine being around and He even makes it. And it seems He’s not only okay with it being around, He actually tells us to drink wine in remembrance of Him. Why did God set it up that way?
Why does God seem so unsafe?
Well, maybe He wanted us to experience both good and evil so that we could long for the Good. Without knowledge of evil, it can be quite difficult to recognize or appreciate the Good. Maybe God wanted us to see our own judgments for what they are so that we could see clearly His Judgment for what it is. Maybe He wanted us to see that it’s difficult for us to judge based on our “knowledge of good and evil,” stolen from the tree–the tree of law.” It’s difficult for us to judge well because our judgments, also called our “choices” are based on a lie that we started to believe at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; it’s a lie that we create ourselves, and because we think we create ourselves our choices are motivated by pride, shame, and fear, and that’s sin. When we try to judge, we are judging with our old man—an illusion, a lie, a false self.
This lie, this false self, is what the Apostle Paul calls the old man. But, Good News: Paul explains that there is hope beyond the old man. The old man is dead and we are part of the New Man—Christ—this is the Man that God creates with His Judgment, His Word—Jesus. It’s only through the New Man that we can see clearly.
Jesus told a parable about a farmer who sowed good seed in his field (see Matthew 13:24-29). We are God’s field. God is the farmer. Jesus is called the Seed. Well, one enemy came and sowed tares in the same field. Tares look like wheat but aren’t wheat, they’re false wheat. The enemy is Satan, and Satan is the father of lies. And Satan is the father of your false self. Well, servants ask the Master: “Should we root out the tares?” And the Master says, “No, for in rooting out the tares you’ll root out the wheat.” “Wait until the harvest,” which we know is Judgment.
We have our judgment and a false self that looks a bit like wheat, but it’s not. Within time and space, we experience both arrogant and bad choices—our old man, and we experience God’s good choice, His Seed in us. It’s like we’re constructed of choices made in space and time, bad and good. If we judge ourselves, we experience this mixture of the old man and the New Man and so we judge ourselves both good and bad.
Ultimately, judging ourselves with ourselves is very bad judgment. It’s more “old me” because “old me” is the me that thinks he’s the judge, and then even my confession of sin is sin. We long for something to set us free from our own judgment and so we search for that something with our broken judgment.
And this is where Ephesians 5:18 comes back into play: “Do not get drunk with wine…”
We long for an escape from ourselves and our bad judgments and so we judge that maybe taking wine will help us escape. And for a time… it seems to work . . . until we find ourselves sick on the floor with a brutal headache. Our judgments, even our attempts to escape from our own judgments don’t work.
But there is Good News! God has a better way!
Do you remember what happened in Acts chapter 2 on Pentecost, the feast of the harvest (and this relates back to the wheat and tares)? God helps us forget our judgment, and He intoxicates us with His loving Judgment.
On Pentecost, they were all gathered together praying and waiting, as Jesus had told them, and a mighty wind came and tongues of fire, and then they all started “singing and making melody to the Lord, giving thanks always and for everything,” and doing it in foreign tongues. They lost their inhibitions and formed the new community called Church. They submitted one to another and shared all in common. They confessed themselves and joined the party—the Kingdom of God.
Great crowds gathered to watch this and some said, “They’re drunk.” Then Peter stood up and said, “They’re not drunk; it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. “This is what was prophesied: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” They are not drunk with alcohol, but they were drunk with Holy Fire; they had Fire in their veins. They were intoxicated with the Spirit of God.
Do you remember the criticism leveled against Jesus in the gospels? “A friend of tax collectors and sinners, a glutton and a drunkard.” Now, I don’t think that Jesus was a drunkard, and yet, if the Spirit affected the people this way, maybe Jesus seemed drunk twenty-four hours a day. Maybe He really was intoxicated, not with alcoholic spirits, but with the Holy Spirit. He had no inhibitions because He had no pride. No wonder people wanted to party with Him twenty-four hours a day; He was wasted on Fire Water, Holy Spirit, and Holy Fire.
The Spirit at Pentecost separates the wheat from the tares. The Spirit burns the tares and is the wheat. The wheat is the fruit of the Spirit. The blood cleanses the body of impurities and brings Spirit, breath, which is Life. “Don’t be drunk with wine but filled with the Spirit.”
In the Old Testament, in numerous places, God’s wrath is described as a cup of wine given to men, to make them drunk. And men long to get drunk. See? The Spirit of God destroys our old man—and we all long to have him destroyed—and the Spirit of God fills me with the New Man causing Him to love and be loved. He’s replacing human judgment with divine Judgment.
And do you remember Jesus’ first miracle?
He’s not only replacing human judgment with divine Judgment for you and for me, He’s doing it for all of creation—throughout all of history—He’s filling earthen vessels with the very best wine.
Holiness is not the opposite of drunkenness; it’s more like holiness is true drunkenness, and drunkenness is counterfeit holiness. God wants you to be free from your own judgment and filled—intoxicated with His Judgment, which is Love.
So, surrender your judgments to His Judgment.
Let His Spirit fill your earthen vessel.
And then watch Him flow through you, pouring back out to Him and others in joyful submission with all sorts of songs and melodies in your heart, and with gratitude for everything!
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It is a compilation of several devotional thoughts from Kimberly and excerpts from Peter’s sermon titled: “Intoxicating Spirits.” To read, watch or listen to the sermon in its entirety click here: Intoxicating Spirits
*Discussion questions are available here: 7.7.2013 Discussion Questions