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For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

So Jesus says that the Son of Man came "eating and drinking."

Does he mean:

  1. Men in general eat carbohydrates and drink liquids (which is too obvious)
  2. Jesus eats carbohydrates and drinks water (again, somewhat obvious).
  3. Jesus eats stuff and drinks wine.
  4. Jesus always came eating and drinking (impossible).

Is the 3rd correct?

I mean Jesus says he came eating and drinking. What is he eating and drinking anyway? Specifically, is he referring to drinking wine?

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I think Jesus would have kept a "sober mind." – Bagpipes Jul 13 '14 at 12:04
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Jesus is being compared to John the Baptist by the Pharisees in that John ate sparingly and only things such as locust and honey and drank no wine. Jesus ate pretty much whatever he wanted to and drank wine, and was accused of gluttony and being a winebibber or drunken, because of this. They thought John the Baptist diet strange and too controlled, but when Jesus ate normally, what others ate, they condemned him for having no control. Since there was no sin attributed to food and wine, other than a practice of excess (gluttony and drunkenness), the charge was a slander. Basically they hated that he ate with sinners and publicans as well. So yes, 3 would be correct.

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How do you know that drunknness is sin? In canae wedding, if the drink is indeed wine, which you seem to have no problem with, Jesus produces copious amount of wine. So Jesus is helping drunk people to get even more drunk. – Jim Thio Apr 17 '14 at 5:40
@JimThio: Who said ANYONE got drunk? I don't remember reading that in the text of Scripture. A few observations: 1) Wine in those days was safer to drink that plain ol' un-chlorinated water (before the germ theory of disease was discovered); 2) wine in those days was likely very weak; whereas most wines today contain 13-15 percent alcohol content, wine in Jesus' day contained perhaps a third or a quarter of that amount of alcohol; 3) the wedding reception in Cana was a joyous occasion, and wine in moderation makes the heart glad (Psalm 104:15 NAS). In short, Jesus was definitely NOT a killjoy! – rhetorician Apr 17 '14 at 21:55
Well, who said that all people in the party drink in moderation? John 2:10 says that typical in typical jewish party, people get drunk. Also Jesus produce copious amount of wine. – Jim Thio Apr 19 '14 at 7:54

Jesus means none of the four things you noted

Here is a slightly expanded context to the words you quote. John the Baptist had just sent messengers to confirm some things about Jesus (Lk 7:18-23). After they leave, Jesus says some very impressive words about John the Baptist (Lk 7:24-28). At this point is...

Luke 7:29-35

29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) 31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
 we sang a dirge,
    and you did not cry.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”


The general populace, including the tax collectors, responded favorably to Christ's words both about John the Baptist and God (v.29). But the Pharisees and "experts" in Mosaic Law did not (v.30). It was this last group that elicits Christ's further comments to draw a parallel (v.31), which is in a chiastic structure:

(A1) We played the pipe for you, <------------------------------------------------
   (A2)   and you did not dance;                                                 |
(B1) we sang a dirge,            <-------------------------------------------    |
   (B2)  and you did not cry.                                               |    |
                                                                            |    |
(B'1) For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine,  <---    |
   (B'2) and you say, ‘He has a demon.’                                          |
(A'1) The Son of Man came eating and drinking,   <--------------------------------
   (A'2) and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, 
             a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

The concepts of A1 corresponds to A'1, A2 to A'2, B1 to B'1, and B2 to B'2.

For B to B' group, these children who were making a sorrowful proclamation by singing a dirge, are not getting a mournful response from the other children, who were not crying. Likewise John the Baptist came with a mournful proclamation of "repentance for the remission of sins" (Lk 3:3), and many tax collectors and sinners were responding (Lk 3:10-14), being baptized of John (Lk 3:7; i.e. identifying with John's message). But the Pharisees and lawyers were not remorseful, and were unrepenting (Lk 3:7; cf. Mt 3:7), rejecting John the Baptist's message to be baptized (Lk 7:30) because they thought he was possessed of a demon, because he "came neither eating bread nor drinking wine." That is, because he was a loner not having companionship with others, not eating at feasts and gatherings, and not wearing fancy clothes or dwelling in a house (Lk 7:25), but lived outside of town (Mt 3:1), clothed in camel hair, eating locusts and wild honey (Mt 3:4). All things opposite of the Pharisees and lawyers (Lk 20:46), and thus they deemed him demon possessed.

For A to A' group, these children who were making a joyful proclamation by playing music, are not getting a joyful response from the other children, who were not dancing. Likewise the Son of Man came with a joyful proclamation of the "gospel [i.e. good news] of the kingdom," and many tax collectors and sinners were responding (as Scripture testifies many places, crowds were following Him), seeking to enjoy His companionship (i.e. eating and drinking with Him; Lk 5:29). But the Pharisees and lawyers were not responding joyfully. They were rejecting Christ's message because he was associating with this crowd (Lk 5:30), whom in their pride they looked down upon (Lk 18:10-13). They also assumed Christ was being a glutton and a drunkard along with this crowd (for such was the behavior of the tax collectors and sinners).

Conclusion on "eating and drinking"

So the phrase "eating and drinking" is not meant to reflect at all upon "what is he eating and drinking" in contrast to John the Baptist, it is that He was having companionship with a crowd the Pharisees and lawyers rejected, in contrast to John the Baptist who had companionship with no one.

Did Jesus Drink Wine?

Though your question content did not clarify it until I edited it in, your title to the question was pointed at resolving this. I assume this is at least in part because of John the Baptist it is said: "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born" (Lk 1:15, NIV).

So because of this contrast, you are wondering if Jesus then partook of wine.


First, a little background of the Old Testament view on it:

  • The Aaronic priesthood was not to drink (Lev 10:9-11); the passage specifically notes both during their service in the Lord's tabernacle, but also so they could rightly teach the Lord's commands (which would be at any other time).
  • For kings and princes (rulers of Israel) it was not wise to drink, for it would impair their judgment to rule (Prov 31:4-5), which God would hold them accountable for (e.g. Isa 28:1-10).
  • For all others, it was not wise to drink, for it would impair their judgment to obey the commands of God, and thus bring "woe" upon themselves (Isa 5:11-12, 22-25).

So those seeking to teach God's truth were specifically forbidden to drink (to them it was sin). To rulers, warning was given to not drink, else they might get drunk and rule unrighteously, and bring judgment upon themselves. To others, warning was given to not drink, else they might get drunk and disobey God's commands. So the possibility of being "lead astray" (Prov 20:1) was the chief reason to not drink, and specifically to not do so in excess. Proverbs is full of calls to wisdom.

This command against excess was carried over to the New Testament (Rom 13:13; Eph 5:18). The call for wisdom is also to the Christian (e.g. Col 1:29).

Of Christ

He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 6:20). The Melchizedek Christ is being compared to brought wine with him when coming to meet Abraham (Gen 14:18). He was not under the Aaronic command of law. Christ's order of priesthood does not specifically forbid Him from drinking wine.

Christ was born to be "king of kings" (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14), so he was to be wise in ruling.

Christ was born to be obedient to God the Father (Jn 5:30), and fulfilled the Law (Mt 5:17) in obedience to God (Rom 5:19).

Christ is in the place of all those who were to be wise about drinking intoxicating beverages. It would seem the wisest thing of all would be not to drink at all, but that is still speculation as to whether He ever drank or not. It would not be unwise to take a sip (as, say, during Passover time); but when He blessed the cup during the last supper, He did not partake, but gave it to the disciples (Mt 26:27-29; Mk 14:23-25; Lk 22:17-18, esp. v.17 notes who the cup was distributed to).

However in Mk 14:25, Christ says "Truly I say to you..."

ὅτι   οὐκέτι    οὐ μὴ       πίω        ἐκ  τοῦ  γενήματος   τῆς    ἀμπέλου   ἕως   τῆς
that  no more  not ever  will I drink  of  the    fruit    of the   vine,   until  the

ἡμέρας  ἐκείνης    ὅταν  αὐτὸ   πίνω    καινὸν    ἐν  τῇ   βασιλείᾳ τοῦ   Θεοῦ.
 day   that [day]  when   it   I drink  new/anew  in  the  kingdom   -   of God.

The interesting word here is οὐκέτι (ouketi; "no more" or "no longer"). This at least implies Jesus had partaken of drinking of "the fruit of the vine" with them before. Of course, "τοῦ γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου" ("the fruit of the vine") is broader than the term that is not used here, οἶνος ("wine"). The former can encompass many levels of fermentation. He also specifically refers to that which He will partake of in the future as καινὸν ("new"), however, even "new wine" could potentially cause drunkeness (Act 2:13).


The best I can determine from this short survey (there may be evidence I have missed, this was just a couple of hours of investigation), is that Christ never would have drunk wine to the point of any level of intoxication that would impair judgment. Whether He might have partaken of sips of wine during any of the Jewish feasts seems plausible (given Mk 14:25), but not conclusive.

All that we do know that He drank for sure was water (Jn 4:7).

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Nice, evenhanded answer. Kudos. Don – rhetorician Apr 17 '14 at 22:03

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