Q: Dear Pastor,
How would Jesus handle an invitation to a holiday cocktail party?
A: I’m assuming you mean, would Jesus attend a holiday cocktail party? Yes. Would he go places where alcohol was served? Absolutely, yes. Would he imbibe? Before I answer that... and before my readers write me off as a heathen-heretic (if they haven’t already)... let’s look at some scripture and see if we can’t find answers from the man himself.
In the Bible’s book of Matthew, Jesus was preaching to a crowd of religious hypocrites. Angrily he said, “John the Baptist did not go around eating and drinking, and you said, ‘That man has a demon in him!’ But the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, and you say, ‘That man eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what it does” (Matthew 11:19, CEV). Christ was pointing out their misguided assessment of the Christian leaders God had sent to them, namely himself and John the Baptist. He remarks that his cousin John never socialized or drank alcohol at all, yet still couldn’t live up to their standards of so-called righteousness. Jesus then speaks of himself as one who attends dinner parties and enjoys adult beverages, yet these religious zealots condemn even the Messiah and called him a glutton and a drunk whether or not it was true. In my view, the point Jesus was making wasn’t the sanctioning of social drinking and revelry. It was that no matter what, the people bound by demonic religious spirits and systems will always condemn the freedoms found in Christ. They condemned Jesus constantly until they finally justified their killing of him. John the Baptist was martyred as well. The lesson? Religion is a killer. Jesus Christ sets the captives free.
If scoffers maintain that Jesus would not have set foot in places where heavy drinking was happening, we cannot ignore the truth that reveals the exact opposite: Jesus attended a wedding reception with so much alcohol on the menu, the maître dꞌ had certain vats of it planned to be served in stages! In other words, they served the good stuff first... then when everyone had had a few (and potentially couldn’t tell the difference between a robust Cabernet and Boone’s Farm)... they snuck in the ripple. Read the account of the Wedding of Cana in the Book of John, chapter two and review what transpired. Jesus was not only present at the equivalent of a cocktail party, he created the substance of their joy: “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:10, 11, NASB).
Jesus initiated Communion using the symbols of bread and wine because those items were every-day staples on the dinner tables of the ancient world. Wine was nearly as common as water, and since wine was fermented, it was often dispensed like medicine: “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23). Jesus sanctified the bread and wine because they were easy icons to remember him by - and clearly not a forbidden substance for himself or the Apostles.
The question of whether or not Jesus would join you in a toast at your holiday party must be couched in the context of our day, just like the wine and bread was set in his. Jesus loved people; people were drawn to him; so he spent much of his time being entertained and socializing. Today, as always, Jesus would enjoy the fellowship of a holiday event because being near his beloved is always his highest priority. Would he raise a glass and toast to your health, family and future? What do you think?
Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.