As far as knowing that Jesus was drinking grape juice and not wine, the Greek praise translated to "fruit of the vine" is γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου. The word γένημα (genēma) refers to fruit and ἄμπελος (ampelos) refers to a grape vine. Jesus is referring to a fresh drink, not a fermented drink.
The Greek word for fermented wine is οἶνος (oinos). There is no mention of this at the 'last supper' because Jesus was not drinking wine.
In the Old Testament we find multiple Hebrew words translated to wine:
עָסִיס (`aciyc) - which refers to sweet wine or juice (unfermented)
תִּירוֹשׁ (tiyrowsh) - which refers to new wine, which may be fermented and intoxicating, or may simply be juice.
יַיִן (yayin) - refers to fermented and intoxicating wine.
Furthermore, the ancient custom for drinking fermented wine was to dilute it with water. For customary uses - for gatherings and so forth - if fermented wine was used, it was diluted with up to 20 parts water - leaving the alcohol content well under 1%.
Furthermore, we know that Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist did not drink wine. Jesus said this himself:
"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine..." (Luke 7:33)We also find this in the words of the angel that appeared to Zechariah regarding John:
"...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." (Luke 1:15)And because Jesus was one of John's students (meaning of baptism) we know that he certainly followed his teacher in this respect of not drinking alcohol - or at least drinking minimal alcohol in the form of the watered down version.
We also find that Jesus turned down alcohol even when he was suffering on the cross:
There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall [myrrh or wormwood]; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. (Matt. 27:34)Once Jesus tasted it and found it was wine, he didn't want it. This is even though wine was being used medicinally in this situation.
Furthermore, we find that there is a critical misunderstanding with regard to why Jesus is calling the bread and the grape juice "my blood of the covenant."
"Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them" (Matt. 26:27)The Greek word being translated to "given thanks" here is εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteō) - and the word Greek word translated to "given thanks" in Matt. 26:26 is the synonym ὐλογέω (eulogeō), which both mean "to praise, celebrate with praises" and "to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers" according to the lexicon.
What is this? It is referring to the ancient practice - handed down from the ancient prophets and also taught by Jesus - of making an offering to the Supreme Being.
When something is offered to the Supreme Being it becomes "blessed." This is why the food and the grape drink were so special. Jesus offered them to God with praises, so the food and the grape juice became blessed.
Offering food to God was an ancient practice handed down from teacher to student for thousands of years as a practice to help us re-establish our loving relationship with God. The books of the Old Testament describe clearly the practice of offering to God, and God Himself requested it:
"Tell the Israelites to bring Me an offering. You are to receive the offering for Me from each man whose heart prompts him to give." (Exodus 25:2)Unfortunately, ecclesiastical sectarian institutions and their professional teachers have abandoned making offerings to the Supreme Being. Why?
Because they are not interested in coming to know and love the Supreme Being - which is facilitated by making an offering.
Just consider what a boy does when he wants to get to know a girl better. He brings her flowers - an offering. This is meant to facilitate a relationship between the two.
This is the same purpose for making an offering to the Supreme Being. We are extending ourselves to Him - wanting to come to know and love Him.
Instead of reaching out to the Supreme Being, sectarian institutions teach that we don't need to offer anything to God because Jesus' crucifixion replaced the need for offerings. This perversion of Jesus' life and mission is the foundation for the grotesque rituals being conducted by these sectarian organizations today, as they imagine drinking Jesus' blood as they pass around wine or grape juice in the hopes of being relieved of the consequences of their self-centered activities (sins).
This teaching and ritual focused upon around using the crucifixion of Jesus to relieve people of their sins was begun not by those who were students of Jesus, but rather, those who wanted to later use Jesus to promote their own brand of sectarianism in order to control people: The Roman government, one of the most vicious and bloodthirsty governments known in the history of humanity.
This attempt to use the teachings of Jesus to exert control over Europe and the Middle East by the Romans and their proxy, the Roman Catholic Church, existed for over 1,000 years.
The Roman strategy worked quite well. The early Roman Church selected a few of the many scriptures that were being read by dedicated scholars and their students, and banned the rest. They burnt any scroll outside of those they kept in their secret library or translated to Latin (which only the Roman priests could understand). Then they outlawed the possession of any scroll or writ by a common person - and even the Latin Bible was limited to only Church priests.
Thus the entire peoples of Europe and the Middle East - anyone under the control of the Romans or the powerful Roman Catholic Church - could not read scripture privately. They could only attend mass and hear the priest quote the Latin - a language most could not even understand.
This allowed the Romans to almost completely snuff out the teachings of Jesus that were being passed on by Jesus' student lineage. Anyone teaching anything outside the Church teachings - the Nicene Creed - was burnt at the stake or imprisoned and hanged.
And it was out of this tyranny that the brainwashing ritual of "bathing in the blood of Jesus" by pretending that Jesus' blood is some crackers or bread and wine.
Why should we believe this?
Their teachings and rituals have focused upon a self-centered (cleansing of sins) worship of Jesus' crucifixion rather than those devotional activities Jesus promoted to help change the hearts of his students - teaching them to refocus their lives upon the Supreme Being.
And is it a coincidence that this is the same government responsible for persecuting Jesus?
No. Not only was the Roman government involved in the murder of Jesus' physical body when he was here: They then proceeded to cover up Jesus' real teachings, with some hokey teaching about Jesus being God turned man so that God could die for our sins.
Come on. This is outrageous.
They are teaching that God died. How could God die? How could the Supreme Being - who created everything - come under the influence of the physical world and die? Is that sane? No.
The Supreme Being does not die. He is eternal and never comes under the control of the physical world. Thus he never faces death.
Furthermore, God is God. He never becomes a man. Its like saying that a man can become a rock. How could that be so? They are completely different types of entities. The Supreme Being is always supreme. He is always superior. He would never have to succumb to being a lower organism - a human physical body.
More importantly, the Supreme Being never has to make a sacrifice to atone for anyone. The Supreme Being can cleanse someone's sins simply by willing it. He doesn't need to make a show of supposedly dying.
This fact is confirmed by Jesus' teaching his students to ask the Supreme Being to forgive their sins withing the "Lord's Prayer:"
"and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us." (Matt. 6:12 NLT)The word "sins" is translated from the Greek word ὀφείλημα (opheilēma), but this means "offense, sin" and "debt" according to the lexicon.
Furthermore, we know Jesus was referring to God forgiving sins:
"But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:15)
So why, if Jesus is teaching his students to ask the Supreme Being to forgive them for their sins, do eccleaistical sectarian teachers and their institutions teach this offensive ritual of "bathing in the blood of Jesus" and otherwise because that will cleanse them of their sins?
The word "sin" or "transgressions" in Matt. 6:15 comes from the Greek word παράπτωμα (paraptōma), which means, according to the lexicon, "a sin, misdeed" as well as "to fall beside or near something."
What are we talking about here? Yes, strictly speaking, we may be discussing activities that are self-centered and hurtful to others. But what is this and why would God need to forgive us for being selfish and for hurting others? Why couldn't those who we hurt just forgive us and we're all clean?
Because Jesus is speaking of a deeper offense: Offending the Supreme Being by rejecting our relationship with Him.
This might be compared to a teenager who curses his or her parents and runs off from home after they spent 18 years of their lives and worked hard to raise and keep the child safe. After the love they gave the teenager, the teenager curses them and runs off? This action is certainly offensive to the parents. While they might still love the child, they will nonetheless be hurt by such an action.
And would such an action not deserve the child at some point apologizing to the parents for cursing them and running away? Yes, the teenager would ask for the parents forgiveness, and loving parents would undoubtedly forgive the teenager.
This is what Jesus is speaking about here. Each of us has run off from our relationship with the Supreme Being and we have rejected our relationship with Him. We have rejected the fact that we were created by Him to be His loving servants and playmates.
But because love requires freedom, the Supreme Being allows us the complete freedom to love Him or not.
And because He loves us dearly, certainly He is hurt and offended when we decide we don't want to love Him anymore.
This is why, in fact, we are each dwelling in a temporary physical body in the physical world and not in our home in the spiritual realm. We have been given these physical bodies in order to get away from God. He gave us these physical bodies so that we can pretend we are someone else - so we can forget our relationship with God.
Yes, the Supreme Being is so loving that He will give us the ability to ignore Him and even forget Him - and even deny His existence.
This element of not only accepting God's existence, but accepting our relationship of servant is critical to Jesus' teachings. This is why Jesus said:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)The phrase "but only he who does the will of my Father" is very clear. To do someone's will means to serve that person. Jesus is talking about serving the Supreme Being.
With this point clear, we can now understand Jesus' statement more clearly:
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.""My blood" is being translated from the Greek word αἷμα (haima) which could mean blood, but according to the lexicon can also 'refers to the seat of life,' and its metaphorical meaning refers to ones 'mission' or 'purpose.'
As we understand that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, Jesus was not talking about his physical blood at all. He was referring to his core purpose and intention: His mission.
The next word in the verse is διαθήκη (diathēkē) in Greek, which is being translated to "of the covenant." διαθήκη (diathēkē) means 'dispositions,' 'arrangements,' or 'contracts' relating to testaments or wills. In other words, διαθήκη means a type of pact.
So what kind of pact, covenant, arrangement or contract is Jesus talking about here?
We also find that God maintained a covenant with Noah, with Moses, and a number of other ancient teachers. Some books of the Bible discuss a covenant between God and the people of Israel.
Is this the same covenant as Jesus is describing? While this has been speculated upon by Biblical scholars, we know from the clear teachings of the prophets what God wanted from the people of Israel, and what He was promising them.
Quite simply, God wanted the people of Israel to individually re-establish their loving service relationship with Him. And this goes for all of us: God simply wants us to return to His loving arms.
This is why Moses' and Jesus' most important instruction was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)The word "forgiveness" in Matt. 26:27 is being translated from ἄφεσις (aphesis), which means, according to the lexicon, "release from bondage or imprisonment." Forgiveness can be an alternate meaning, but this was only a contrived meaning as translated by Roman scribes.
Then "of sins" is being translated from the Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartia), which, according to the lexicon, refers to "to be without a share in, to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God..." This can be summarized by something like 'straying from God's will.'
And what is the root of 'straying from God's will?' It is self-centeredness. It is greed. It is envy. These elements facilitate our straying from our original loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
Selfishness and envy can be compared to being imprisoned, because these grab us and draw us further and further into greed, leading to violence. This is why God taught Cain:
"But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7)Selfishness is ready to grab us at any time. Self-centered thoughts lead to desires, which pull us in to greed.
We can only be released from the "bondage" that self-centeredness brings by following Jesus' and Moses' instruction to re-develop our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. Should we do this, then by God's "covenant," we can be released from the bondage of self-centeredness, and thus materialism, and become a candidate for returning to the spiritual world.
This is confirmed by Jesus' next statement, as he says:
"I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."Jesus is confirming that the "covenant" mentioned in the prior sentence is related to his returning to "my Father's kingdom." Jesus is referring to the spiritual realm.
But Jesus is not only talking about his own return to the spiritual realm: "that day when I drink it anew with you" means that Jesus will only feel that the "covenant" is fulfilled when those students Jesus is speaking to embrace his instruction to love and serve God with all their hearts, and thus return to the spiritual realm with him.
This covenant is also available to anyone who chooses to follow Jesus' teachings.
This clarifies Jesus' purpose, and the meaning of his statement here. Jesus was not some sort of sacrificial lamb that supplies blood for people to drink so they can be relieved from the consequences of their sins so they can continue their self-centered behavior without guilt. This perversion of Jesus' life is offensive and abominable, and has nothing to do with the real teachings of Jesus.
Rather, Jesus' purpose was to instruct us to renew our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. Should we do this, we will be released from the bondage of our self-centeredness, and become eligible to return to the spiritual realm. This is the "covenant" Jesus is referring to here. This is why Jesus' most important instruction was:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)