Q. Why do you say the Passover cup contains grape juice when the churches use wine?
A. Nowhere does the Bible teach wine is to be used with the Passover. In fact, the Savior taught just the opposite. He does not condemn strong drink, but is against drunkeness. At the wedding feast at Cana, Yahshua changed the water to wine (oinos) at the bidding of His mother Miriam, John 2:1-10. In fact, we are allowed wine and strong drink to rejoice, Deuteronomy 14:26. He did not condemn wine, but even gave a discourse on how one in those days properly preserved wine in Luke 5:37. This shows that Yahshua is not adverse to wine (oinos), and if that was in the cup, He would say so.
But this begs the question, is one to be joyful, full of laughter, have a merry heart and drink wine when observing the night Yahshua was taken prisoner, beaten and battered, impaled and put to death? Is this a time of joy, revelry and exultation?
The Bible teaches wine is for festivities, a time of joy, to make one merry. “...when Ammon’s heart is merry with wine...” 2Sam 13:28; “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart...” (Ecclesiastes 9:7 AV)
The Savior was with His 12 followers in the upper room, a solemn gathering of worshippers. Would not the same caution given us in the following verse from Leviticus apply there also?
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacles of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.” (Leviticus 10:9 AV)
Passover is the time of unleavened bread. Should not the drink be unleavened as well? The fruit of the vine would be the fresh juice (must) which had not yet fermented.
Would not the prescription of drinking wine or strong drink apply when one joins others in the congregation to remember Yahshua’s death? Are we to be merry and joyful and drink wine, the symbol of joy? Or did Paul say we eat this unleavened bread and drink of the cup show the Master’s death until He comes?, 1Corinthians 11:26. We are cautioned that we should be careful that we do not eat or drink unworthily lest we be guilty of the body and blood of the Savior, and drink damnation unto ourselves, 1Corinthians 11:27-30.
What did Yahshua say was in the cup? Certainly if the cup contained wine (oinos) Yahshua would have said so. Take note that His words are the same in all three evangels, practically verbatim:
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit (#1081) of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Matthew 26:29 AV)
Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit (#1081) of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of Yahweh. (Mark 14:25 AV)
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit (#1081) of the vine, until the kingdom of Yahweh shall come. (Luke 22:18 AV)
Fruit is Strong’s #1081, gennema. From 1080; offspring; by analogy, produce (literal or figurative): fruit. From Yahshua’s statements we conclude the cup had in it the fruit of the vine, no breaking down or fermentation, changing of the grape sugars to alcohol. This was no time for the Savior and His disciples to rejoice and be merry. It is rather a time for us to reminisce over the meaning and significance of this special night. We are to think of the price Yahshua paid for our salvation; the beating He took, for by His stripes we are healed.