Grape juice does not burst wine skins. It is the fermenting process which expands the liquid. The bubbling over of the now-fermenting product is what bursts the old wine skins. When the Bible speaks of wine, it means wine. To argue that it really means grape juice is to destroy the analogy which Christ used to describe His church’s actions in history and His gospel’s power in history. Oh, how Satan must wish that Christ’s church and Christ’s gospel were really grape juice, sitting safe and sound in the old wine skins of Palestine! Why do you suppose Christ said that the wine of His communion table was His blood? Because His blood is to cover the sins of sinners throughout Satan’s kingdom, all over the world. Yet there are millions upon millions of Christians today who insist on celebrating the Lord’s Supper with grape juice. Grape juice breaks the analogy because grape juice won’t break wine skins. Grape juice at the communion table symbolises the historical impotence of Christ’s blood, Christ’s gospel, Christ’s church, and Christ’s expanding kingdom.
My two cents
I’ve heard that some denominations believe that all references to wine in the Bible are not referring to alcoholic wine as such, but grape juice. I’m not so convinced by their position; rather I’m convinced by the exposition above. That being the case, I’m curious to know who started the interpretation of grape juice and whether it has a home in the exegesis of the early church.
It reminds me of an early miracle of Christ, which everyone describes as turning the water into wine. Turning the water into grape juice doesn’t seem as powerful.
North, G (1994). Unconditional Surrender: God’s Plan for Victory. 4th. ed. Tyler: Institute for Christian Economics. p. 109