We are reading Luke 1-3 this week, and I said I’d answer questions if you have them. Here is one question I was asked.
Why did the Angel tell Zechariah that John the Baptist couldn’t drink wine? (Luke 1:15) And does this mean that it is wrong to drink alcohol?
You probably asked this question because deep down you are saying “C’mon man, can I drink a Natural Light on occasion?”
First of all, Natural Light is not beer. It’s pee. But regardless, it was forbidden to John the Baptist. And so was every other kind of fermented barley, fermented grapes, or fermented anything!
So, why couldn’t this great man (the greatest man ever born of a woman – Luke 7:28) drink a cold one?
The purpose was to carry on the tradition of a Nazarite vow found in Numbers 6:1-12. You may be familiar with Samuel or Sampson, they were Nazarites as well. A nazarite was not allowed to drink any intoxicating beverages, cut his hair, or have contact with the dead. A nazarite couldn’t eat grapes or anything that came from a grape (fermented or not).
So, does this mean that no christian is allowed to drink wine or fermented barley water? No, that’s not what this verse was trying to communicate. If that’s what it meant, then why did Jesus (who was greater than John) drink wine? And why did Jesus encourage his disciples to drink wine “in memory” of Him?
It’s not about the wine. It’s about the Nazarite vow.
The Nazarite vow is an Old Testament thing, but there is a parallel pattern in the New Testament for you and I to follow. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
So, for us, we are not commanded to make a Nazarite vow. But we are commanded to be people who are dedicated to God.
It’s not about the wine, it’s about being dedicated to God.