by Kim on November 19, 2007

Apropos Richard’s Parable of of the Couple of Beers (see below), students of the gospels will be aware of the the accusation that Jesus was a “drunk” (oinopotes) (Matthew 11:19, par. Luke 7:34). The word can mean simply “drinker”, but it is coupled with the word phagos, which means “glutton”, not just “eater”, so the Greek definitely refers to over-indulgence. It is Jesus himself who speaks of the accusation, which comes not just from his enemies but, according to Luke, from “all the people” (pas ho laos) (Luke 7:29), represented by the crowd he is addressing.

Of course the accusation could be a slander. But isn’t that special pleading? Even if habitual inebriation is an exaggeration, well, what’s the saying - “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”? After all, also included in the accusation is that Jesus was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” - and ain’t it the truth?

Here’s my question: Would it trouble you if the accusation had a basis in fact, if our Lord might on occasion - let’s just say - have had “one too many”? Or is that just too scandalous to consider?

Personally, while I would have a problem with an alcoholic Jesus, I would have no problem at all with a Jesus who liked a couple of those beers that Richard mentions (which in the UK would make him over the legal limit, such that he’d have to get a taxi home). After all, I’d happily have Jesus around to Thanksgiving dinner, and, with Angie baking, fully expect him to join me as I loosen the belt and tuck into that second slice of pumpkin pie (and have an Alka-Seltzer with me before falling asleep in front of the telly). And if occasional over-eating, why not occasional over-drinking? Or is your Jesus the Commissioner of the food-and-drink police?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }


dh 11.19.07 at 7:17 pm

Jesus never had “one too many” because He never got drunk. It was a slanderous accusation. In that day just hanging around tax-collectors and other drunks would make all of the people think one was a drunk. Back then the culture was “you are who you are around”. Whatever Scripture says on the subject and knowing that Jesus never sinned is what gives insight into the truth of who Jesus was. Jesus never got drunk because it is sin nor did He ever “overeat” because . The fact remains Jesus never sinned. My Jesus is a sinless God.

Also, Luke 7:29 was not in reference to being drunk or gluttony but in reference to God’s Way being right. For proper context, while all of the people were there, the address of Luke 7:34 was a public address toward those particular people who were the Pharisees and the supports of the Pharisees who thought that Jesus was a drunk and glutton.

It isn’t scandolous but heretical to think Jesus sinned by being drunk or was gluttonous. I believe the accusaations were slanderous or was a testiment of Him operation under the Holy Spirit so much that it gave that impression when in fact He was neither “drunk or gluttonous”.

The fact remains being drunk and being a glutton are both sins. However, one must properly define being drunk and being a glutton. Hense my reply on another post of Kim’s regarding alcohol.


Paul Martin 11.19.07 at 8:57 pm

I don’t think I would have a problem with a Jesus who liked a couple of beers but falling asleep afterwards in front of the telly just makes me think of Jim Royle which would constitude a slanderous accusation.

The strongest arguments against alcohol come with the problem of drunkennes which is today a major social problem as is the increasing number suffering from the disease of alcoholism. It is on that basis that I think total abstinence has a case even if I am what you might call a part time abstainer (about as consistent as a part time faithful husband or a part time vegetarian - by the way I’m the latter not the former).

Still, I see Jesus as having a spark about him which sadly I have never found amongst the average fruit juicer drinker!


Mark Byron 11.19.07 at 9:26 pm

I think you’re on target, Kim. Jesus wouldn’t have been a food Nazi, but he wouldn’t have been a lush, either. His first recorded miracle was turning water into wine, so He wasn’t anti-alcohol.

However, I don’t see Him blowing a 0.25 on a breathalizer test. A 0.08 after a couple glasses of wine, maybe.

“Who was it that you pulled over?”
“He must have been important, for Jesus was driving him around”

If our bodies are temples of God, He’s in favor of proper maintenance of same, which would include remembering that “all you can eat” is an invitation and not a challenge.


Kim 11.19.07 at 9:30 pm

Paul, you always talk sense. I look forward to the day when we can have a couple of, er, whatever together!

DH, I quite agree that Jesus was sinless, but our Lord’s sinlessness is an article of faith, not an object of demonstration. Whatever Jesus did, it was not sinful precisely because Jesus did it. It’s not that Jesus didn’t do things because they were sinful, rather things weren’t sinful because Jesus did them. Even, perhaps, getting tipsy.

Apart from Christ - indeed apart from forgiveness - we cannot really know what sin is, for sin is always the shadow cast by grace.


Kim 11.19.07 at 9:32 pm

Mark, I’ve only just read your comment. Ditto what I said to Paul.


dh 11.19.07 at 10:01 pm

Well, I believe Jesus was sinless as an article of Faith AND an object of demonstration. Jesus in fact did not do things because they were sin and His lifestyle was such that He was tempted but yet He did not sin. I DO NOT believe Jesus EVER got tipsy because He never sinned. If Scripture says something is a sin then because Jesus is sinless He did not do them. Kim you conclusion on Jesus makes no sense in light of what Scripture states as what sin is and what Scripture says Jesus was which is and always has been sinless. The fact remains Jesus never was drunk due to being drunk is a sin. Did He drink alcohol? We will never know. Scripture just says He made the water wine. No where in Scripture does it say Jesus “partook”. Only that He hanged around sinners. Heck, I have been to bars with non-Christian friends and didn’t partake. I don’t see why Jesus wouldn’t do the same. Now, I’m not saying Jesus didn’t have alcohol but just that Scripture gives no indication either way. All we know is that Jesus never sinned and thus never got drunk because Scripture says “He was tempted in every way like man yet without sin.”


dh 11.19.07 at 10:03 pm

Jesus didn’t do things that His own Word says is sin. It makes no sense Kim for you to have your particular conclusion.


Bene D 11.20.07 at 10:26 am

I was reading the preview of Ben Witherspoon’s book on the Lords’ supper.

Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper.
There is a preview in Google books.

I see Jesus as joyful, enjoying all His Father created. Your questions are reasonable. Nothing to be scandalized over.

I’m with Mark, knowing and respecting his own position as a Rabbi, I think Jesus would have respected Himself, His hosts and His friends and would have honoured when say when.
I also imagine He would have been such a great dinner guest, one might not have wanted to overindulge while dining with Him; He’d be far to interesting and full of life to attempt to focus through an alcohol haze.

Just think. Some day it’s all going to be okay, and He’ll invite us to feast and it will be something joyful beyond what I can possibly grasp wrapped in this present clay. His presence will be so complete, His love so full, I won’t mind serving DH one bit.;^)


Paul Martin 11.20.07 at 1:06 pm

I don’t see enjoying a tinnie or two of lager as remotely sinful. It only becomes sinful if I allow it to cause me to act in a way that is harmful to others. Kim in no way suggests that Jesus would have gone down this path. In fact his picture of an evening at the Fabricius abode is rather endearing.

Anyhow I used to want to be a barman but in that I have failed. Perhaps in the afterlife, Kim and myself might serve the odd drink to dh - in moderation of course!


tortoise 11.20.07 at 2:14 pm

Here’s a thought.

It’s said that alcohol is an intensifier of emotion or mood, not a mood-changer.

But whenever I read the gospels, I see in Jesus someone who at every moment displays utter intensity - a thorough-going confidence in his kinship with the Father; a wholehearted rejoicing in the restoration of the lost, the outcast; an absolute love for all who met him. Even at Gethsemane, a profundity of sorrow and torment such that the sweat came as blood.

(to clarify - I don’t mean ‘intense’ in the sense of ‘incapable of having a laugh’ - quite the reverse in fact, I’d emphasize first and foremost the intensity of joy)

How could alcohol, or any other substance, intensify something already so completely intense as the thoughts, words, actions, prayers of Jesus? How could it have even been possible (if we leave aside the Christological stuff about divine and human natures, and the physiological stuff about what alcohol does to reflexes and co-ordination) for Jesus to speak or act ‘under the influence of alcohol’?

How many units of alcohol per week did Jesus consume? Dunno. Did alcohol have any power over him? Assuredly not, I’d say.


ee 11.20.07 at 2:58 pm

I guess the intense times are the ones that get recorded, aren’t they? I bet Jesus made a fair few chairs in the carpenter’s shop, but there’s not a single mention of them in the Gospels.
(though as an aside, if one came up for auction, it would fetch a few bob).

Sometimes people just relax and enjoy each others company. I do believe that God gave us a gift of wine ‘which gladdens the heart of man’ (Ecclesiastes?) to help this, and I’d be quite sure that Jesus did partake in a non-puritanical way. Yet without sin.


dh 11.20.07 at 3:17 pm

EE, I agree with you and we know He didn’t get drunk and the concept of Him drinking is “non-puritanical”. So therefore I agree with you 100%.

Paul I agree with you. Some think I believe drinking is a sin. I’m not saying this. In fact Paul Martin’s understanding is what I agree with. However, I believe Jesus wasn’t drunk. To torouise, I still don’t believe He drank but I don’t believe He got drunk under any sense over cross any time so I stick with the highest being 2 units of alcohol and probably less to none. If Scripture says being drunk is sin and refers to “strong drink a mocker” I believe His actions were meant to be replicated and as such even if alcohol had no affect on Him He would not do anything that would lead people astray and as such would not drink as much as He can even if it had no affect on Him. I happen to believe it did all things like man yet without sin but for the sake of argument brought this up for tortouise’s comment.

Bene D, thanks for the compliment and I really wholeheartedly agree with you in every way with your response. Why I enjoy your compliment. What was the background on bringing me up? Do you disagree with me? It seems your reply I totally agree with. Could you clarify a little Bene? I’m kind of taken back by our apparent agreement here. :)


Beth 11.20.07 at 6:30 pm

“In fact his picture of an evening at the Fabricius abode is rather endearing.” - just you wait till you’ve tried one of Kim’s martinis, Paul. Or, even worse, Angie’s eggnog. They certainly add to the Christmas warmth!


Kim 11.20.07 at 7:17 pm

With respect to Angie’s eggnog, Beth, of course, means “even better”!


Beth 11.20.07 at 11:13 pm

“Better” from your point of view, Kimmy - “worse” from DH’s ;)


dh 11.21.07 at 3:40 pm

Beth, you are right about that one. I hate eggnog. ;) :)

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