John's gospel chapter 2 - and we're looking tonight, as I've said, at 'The Family Crisis'. John 2, and we're beginning to read at verse 1: "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece", that's approximately 20 to 30 gallons of water. "Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him".
Perhaps we could pray for a moment, and if you're a believer in the Lord Jesus we would ask you to pray with us now that the Lord may come and really bless the preaching of His word. So do unite with us now in prayer.
Father, we thank You for the wonderful stories of the Lord Jesus that we have, particularly in the gospels. Thank You for John's gospel that was written to us that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God - O God, and that in believing we might have life in His name. Lord, that's what our objective is tonight as we preach the gospel, and we believe that it has been Your ordained objective as well, that men and women, and boys and girls, might believe and be saved. Lord, this miracle that we've just read about in Cana of Galilee manifested forth the glory of the Lord Jesus, and that is our desire - that He would be glorified. We also read that after this event His disciples believed on Him - O God, we pray that sinners here tonight would believe on the Lord Jesus. We pray that Your own people would believe again, O Lord, that You'll revive within them and fan the embers of faith in their heart. Whether there are unbelievers or backsliders, or Christians who are cold at heart, Lord may all of us have an encounter with the miracle working Saviour, the Lord Jesus. May our water be changed into wine. O God, meet with us, Holy Spirit, may He be sent in convicting power and uplift Christ, and regenerate those who believe. For the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Bessie and Ted had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They lived in the United States - and of course you'll know that things are a lot bigger over there than they are here. The family had been scattered through several states, and in order to celebrate this great anniversary all of the children came together with their children, the grandchildren, to celebrate the great event. They had a wonderful day together, and a slap up meal, and then as the night drew to a close - well, the family started to scatter away again back to their various homes. Ted and Bessie were left, they were sitting out on the veranda on one of these swinging chairs, and Bessie put her head down on Ted's shoulder and looked up into his eyes and said: 'Ted, I'm real proud of you'. Now Ted, over the years, had got a bit of a problem with his hearing, and he looked back at her quite puzzled and said, after thinking about it for a moment: 'Well, Bessie, I'm real tired of you too!'.
I hope that's not your experience if you're married, but even if it's not - the fact of the matter is, in our society today, many marriages have grown tired. More than that, in a general sense, the whole institution of marriage, our society has grown tired of it. They are substituting it with cohabitation, with promiscuity, one-night stands, homosexual relationships that the Bible calls sodomy, which is an abomination to God. The marriage institution has become old, tired, and worn - it's out of date! Now, what we have just read about in John chapter 2 was a wedding feast, and at most marriage ceremonies even today it is usually mentioned, if not in the vows, in the sermon that is preached. It is often said, and rightly so, that it was a social embarrassment to run out of wine at a wedding. Now the difference today with weddings is, it's the bride's father that has to foot the bill. We hear an awful lot about that, don't we? But in those days it was the bridegroom who had the responsibility of putting on the hospitality, the wedding feast, and therefore it reflected very badly on the bridegroom if they ran out of any food, and particularly wine.
So this wedding, if you like, had become a social embarrassment - that's very fitting, isn't it, because that's just what many marriages are today: social embarrassments. Now, you've got to understand the reason why there are so many problems in families today. Now, of course, we could give maybe 101 reasons, but ultimately - and indeed this is the reason for problems in life and all the crises and chaos that we find in human society. God has given us His word. Now God's word, the Bible, is His revealed will: He is our Creator, He is our Maker - and this, if you like, is His blueprint, His manual for how we are to live our lives. But do you know what we have done? The Bible says very clearly: we have rejected His way, and turned every one to his own way. Like Sinatra put it: we're going 'my way'. You know, because God's order and God's rulebook has been rejected, society is crumbling on every front.
Now you mightn't agree with the first part of my statement, but you'll have to agree, surely, with the second. Society is in a mess. Last Sunday, this day week, in the city of Brighton in England there was held Britain's first divorce fair. Now you've heard of bridal fairs, haven't you? A young prospective bride goes along with her mother and all the bridesmaids to have a wonderful day. They pick the bridal dress, and the bridesmaid dresses, and sample the cake and everything. This was a divorce fair, and the press said that it was arranged for estranged spouses who will be able to get information from lawyers, financial advisers, self-help experts, and even astrologists, on how to help them have an easier divorce.
A new survey of Britain's under tens said that if children ruled the world, the first thing they would do is ban divorce. I don't know whether you read about this in the newspaper, but the poll was conducted by an organisation called Luton First, and it's the fourth year that they have conducted this survey on National Kids Day. They surveyed 1600 children, and the children - for the very first time in four years - the children said that of all the things they would want to ban, it was divorce. That's very interesting, isn't it? Children's lives are being wrecked - OK, husbands and wives, all they want to think about at times is their rights - but very seldom are the children thought about. In past years the top of the survey was guns and knives, children wanted to abolish violence from our streets - but this year they want to ban divorce.
Now, just in case you think we Christians are getting on our high horses, and you Christians in the meeting tonight are getting too comfortable, every source around in modern society is telling us that Christians are more or less clones of our secular culture. In other words, they're no different than the rest of the people - and in some cases they are even worse! Now this is staggering: according to a George Barna research poll in the United States of America among professing born again Christians, the result showed that today slightly more Christians are likely to divorce than the general population. I think the figures are something like 27% of Christians divorce, versus 23% of non-Christians. Christians are growing comfortable with the norms of society. Now please don't misunderstand: it's not my intention to get into the complexities of this great issue of divorce, and I'm not underestimating the problems that can come into life in this modern day, where people can be divorced and they have no choice in it at all, their spouse just wants to get rid of them and that's it - they get a letter in the post one day, and a year, or maybe even months later, it's all done and dusted. I'm not underestimating the great pain that many have to suffer in violent and abusive relationships. Don't think that I'm saying that there should never be a way out, but what I am saying this evening is: I want you to understand that the state of the institution of marriage is only one symptom of the problems in our families, and indeed it's only one symptom of a moral and spiritual disintegration of society as a whole.
Now I have married a fair number of couples in ministry, and the preamble to the marriage vows, one of them goes like this: 'Marriage was ordained for the welfare of human society, which can be strong and happy' - strong and happy - 'only where the marriage bond is held in honour'. Now that's God's order, that's the way God created us. The Bible says He set the solitary, or the lonely, in families. He put us together as families: one man, Adam, one woman, Eve, and a family - that was God's plan, and we can't better it, we can't improve on it. When we depart from God's order society crumbles.
Now let me say to you, I don't want you to think that I'm talking to you as if you're stupid. Sometimes preachers talk to non-Christians as if they're stupid, I don't want to be guilty of doing that tonight. You know, I want to go a wee bit further: don't think that it's only Christians who notice these immoral things in our society. I'll tell you something: God - my friend, whoever you are, whatever your background is - God has given you a very special gift. You mightn't even be a Christian, you mightn't be saved or born again, you might not have eternal life, but God, when you were born, give you a moral compass - it's called a conscience. Now a lot of people abuse it, the Bible says that some people sear it - in other words, they stifle it so much and ignore it, and try to drown it, that it's like putting a magnet to a compass, they don't know what way they're going after a while. But nevertheless, this is what God has given us - and what I'm trying to say is: don't tell me that you don't look at the news, like the rest of us, or read the newspapers, and listen to the gossip going around, and you don't stand back in your conscience and say, 'That's not right! That can't be right!'.
Do I have to remind you: February of this year we all heard of this 13-year-old boy, and in the photographs in the newspaper he was like a 10-year-old boy by the look of him, he fathered a child supposedly. I heard everyone, and all the Liberal legislators and politicians that want to give birth control to our children at school and all the rest and bring in abortion, I heard them all saying, to a man: 'That's not right!'. Didn't you hear it as well? They changed their tune all of a sudden, didn't they? You've said that as well. This month you might have heard of grandparents in Edinburgh in Scotland whose daughter was unable to look after her children any longer, and the grandparents wanted to look after them - but they claimed that they were forced to give up these children to two gay men. Now these gay men are adopting them, and the grandparents are claiming to have been warned that they run the risk of never seeing the youngsters again if they continue to object to the gay adoption. Ordinary people are saying: 'That's not right!', and rightly so.
But what I want you to understand that you mightn't have a grasp of tonight is: the reason why our society is crumbling, the reason why the family nucleus is in crisis is because we've rejected God's way, the Author of the family. The general moral breakdown of society, it's only a cameo, a microcosm if you like, of what is going on in our personal lives. It's reflecting the reality of how we're living as individuals, because people's lives, people's marriages, people's families, people's communities are dysfunctional. People are despairing, they are in crisis, they don't know where to turn, they don't know who has the answer. Well, can I tell you tonight: there is an answer, and the answer is found in the Saviour who - and you've heard this at weddings yourself - hallowed this marriage by His gracious presence at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. Not only did He save this marriage from embarrassment by turning water into wine, He can save your life, my friend, from pointlessness, from despair, from desperation. More than that: He can save your never-dying soul from perdition, from hell, from destruction. He can give you a reason to live, and eternal life after you die!
What a Saviour! But if this is going to be the case for you, and your life is to be saved, and your family to be rescued, there are three things you need to consider about this wedding that we read of in John chapter 2. Here's the first thing: how this wedding was saved. One: Jesus was there! Jesus was there, look at verse 2: 'Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage'. Now I don't know about you, but I can't stand weddings! Now I enjoy the occasion, but the whole long day drawn out and all the sitting about drinking coffee and eating shortbread...but you know what happens. When 6 o'clock, or maybe it's 8 o'clock sometimes, comes and we're all with tongues hanging out, thinking our throats are cut waiting for something to eat - the bell rings, or the man announces that the bridal party is going to be seated. We all get up, and what do we do? We go toward the function room, and there's usually a big poster, and we all start scouring down who is sitting beside whom - and hoping we're not sitting beside the person we don't want to sit beside - but imagine what it would be like if you saw up at the top table, along with all the dignitaries and the bridal party, this name: 'Lord Jesus Christ'. That's what this wedding was like! He was there! But can I go a step further and say this to you: He is at every wedding. 'What do you mean by that?'. God authored marriage, and Christ is at every marriage in picture - Ephesians 5:25 says: 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it'. You know, before time began God wanted us to understand that marriage between a husband and a wife is a picture of Jesus Christ and the church, and He at Calvary laid down His life because He loves us.
You mightn't have realised it, but Jesus Christ was there in picture at your wedding. Can I say something else: this is the reason the devil hates it, this is why he wants to destroy it! Not only because God originated it, but because what it speaks of graphically is like a dramatisation of the cross, where Jesus died for sinners, where the Lord Jesus Christ - the precious, pure, spotless Son of God, who had come into the world through the virgin womb, went and was nailed by wicked, cruel sinners' hands. But why was He there? He was there because He loves us, and He wants to redeem us, and He's laying down His life for us. Was it not He who said: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends'? That's what He did for you, my friend, that's what He did for every man and woman, boy or girl, He went to the cross and He took the punishment for our sin. He bore our hell, He took our shame. It's seen in marriage, when you lose your individuality, when you give your person to another - and the devil hates it! I'll tell you more: the devil wants to obliterate from human society every semblance of God! That's why you have these buses in Westminster, 'There's probably no God, so get on and enjoy your life' - a lot of nonsense! How could you enjoy your life if there's 'probably no God' - if it was me, I'd be worrying the rest of my life in case there's a possibility there might be one! It's ridiculous, isn't it?
But not only is Christ there at every marriage in picture, He's at many marriages in His presence. He is there whenever He is welcomed, and He was welcome to this marriage. I don't know whether they sent out gilt-edged invitations the way they do today, but somehow these folk had asked the Lord Jesus to come to the wedding. A wedding is a joyful event in Jesus' day, and He was very much at home with all the festivities, He is able to experience great joy. My friend, have you experienced the joy of what it is to have the presence of Christ in your marriage, have the presence of Christ in your home, the presence of Christ in your relationship between you as a parent and your children, or you as a child and your parent? It's wonderful. You see, worldly joys fade. The world's running after wealth and health, celebrity status, the three-second buzz, whether through drugs, alcohol or promiscuity - but none of those things last. But the joy that transcends all things is to have the presence of Christ in your life. A lot of people think that being a Christian is to be a killjoy - well, some Christians are killjoys, some people are killjoys no matter whether they're Christians or not. Some Christians look as if their face is tripping them, maybe I'm looking at some of them now! Some people are like that, but don't judge Christ according to Christians - Christians should reflect Christ, but, my friend, don't you ever assume that there is something depressing about being a child of God. Listen: that's what the devil wants you to believe. Jesus said in John 10 verse 10 that the devil has come to thieve, kill and destroy, he wants to rob you of life, he wants to disillusion you, take away any joy or semblance of happiness in your existence - but Jesus said: 'I'm not come to do that, I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it to the full'.
Have you got life to the full? You can't have it without Christ. The presence of Christ was in this marriage. I wonder is the presence, and power, and peace, and joy of Christ in your life? Is Jesus there? That's what makes the difference, that's what turns our embarrassing experiences into something that is worthwhile. There is something else I want you to see. Not only was Jesus there, but Jesus was given His place. Look at verse 5, the mother of the Lord Jesus went to these organisers and basically said: 'Look, my Son can sort this out, but on one condition' - verse 5 - 'Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it'. Whatever He says to you, do it. So the Lord Jesus wasn't just there, but He was given His rightful place. Now, my friend, I'm asking you tonight: have you given Jesus Christ His rightful place in your life? 'What does that mean?', you say. Is He your Saviour? Have you confessed your sin, and admitted that you need a Saviour - that's a big step for a lot of people. It's not such a big step for other people, because they maybe think they're too sinful for God to have anything to do with them. The other crowd, they think they're too good to need a Saviour. My friend, all of us have to come to that place, as Romans 3:23 testifies that there is no difference between any of us, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If you can get there, my friend, you will find a Saviour in Christ. Take Him as your Saviour!
But there might be someone here tonight, and you did profess Christ at one juncture in your life, and Jesus was there in your life - but your problem, the reason why you're not going on with God, is that you didn't give Him His rightful place. What am I talking about? Well, have you given Him the rightful place in the home? In the marriage? In your walk with God? You know, Solomon had so many marriages it would give us nightmares, some of us men, and yet he failed so many times. He said these words, very wise words: 'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths'. You see, too many times he hadn't acknowledged the Lord, and he had gone on and done his own thing - and a lot of people who profess the name of Christ do that. They're a Christian on Sunday, but the rest of the week they just do as they like and live as they like. They operate their business as they like, their marriage as they like, their private and social life as they like. Christ's their Saviour, but they haven't given Him the rightful place in their walk. What about also in worship? I know it's a cliche that those who pray together stay together, and I know it is not watertight because there's plenty of people pray together and their marriage is maybe on the rocks, but I'll tell you this: if you keep close accounts with God, keep close to the Saviour, and keep close to one another, I'll tell you, there is no cure for marriage like that.
The walk and the worship, and then the witness. Sometimes what happens is a couple of keen young Christians get together and get married, and all of a sudden - well, they set up home, and maybe business too, and they're working every hour that's sent, and the overtime on top of that, and then the pitter-patter of wee feet comes along and they get so involved in family life that their witness is gone, and they're not doing anything for God anymore. It's not long before they've grown cold, and they're maybe not even coming to church or meeting with God's people any more. They're not reading their Bible, they're not praying, and their witness is gone - is that you? Jesus has not been given His rightful place, and you wonder why the wine and the joy of Christian experience is not there! C.T. Studd gave up a cricket career, millions of pounds of an inheritance from his family, and went to the mission field to serve Christ - and when he married his wife they both wore sashes across their breast, and they said 'United in Christ'. He was so worried that his wife would love him too much, more than she loved Jesus, but he wrote her a wee poem for her to repeat every day of her life, and went like this:
'Jesus, I love Thee,
Thou art to me
Dearer than Charlie
Ever could be'.
That's it! Christ pre-eminent, first! Are you a backslider tonight, and you know, you can pinpoint where it all went wrong, another love, another longing, another life! Christ was put into second or third, or further, place. You need to give Jesus His rightful place - but thirdly and finally: Jesus was there, He was given His rightful place, but listen to this, it's wonderful, He turned the ordinary into the extraordinary! He turned water into wine. I think marriage and family life in general is harder - I suppose every generation says this - but I think it's harder in the 21st-century, perhaps, than it has ever been in modern civilisation here in our nation. But do you know something? That's no problem for God, for God's word says: 'Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound'. God always gets the upper hand, and God is able, Christ can change the ordinary into the extraordinary. My friend tonight, maybe you're not even married, and you think, 'Well, you've got the message wrong tonight!' - I haven't got the message wrong! What I'm saying to you is: whatever the crisis is in your experience, whatever the embarrassment is - is it the past, sins of the past? Christ can change sin, He can purify your soul and make you righteous - it's the miracle of what the Lord Jesus Christ can do in your life. If you will let Him change your heart, He will change the ordinary into the extraordinary!
What about your present? Maybe you're here tonight and you're struggling with all sorts of habits, sins. Maybe it's a broken heart, separation, a divorce, a relationship that has just been wrecked. Now I'm not making any promises here tonight - and you've got to understand, I'm not some kind of spiritual doctor writing a prescription for you, and saying you trust Christ tonight and all your problems will be solved, no one can do that - but I'll tell you: if you want to give your life or your love or your home any chance, you'll let Christ in. Let Christ in.
One day there was a man, and he was just going about his job as he did every day. He wasn't expecting anything spectacular to happen. All of a sudden, he was maybe dozing on the job, and there was an earthquake! He panicked, because he was a prison guard, and the earthquake had caused the walls to fall down, and his prisoners - as far as he was concerned - had escaped. He took the sword out of its sheath, and he was about to plunge it into his breast, and Paul the apostle - who was the prisoner - said: 'Do yourself no harm, we are here!'. That man wasn't expecting that that day, but do you know what he said? 'What must I do to be saved?'. Now you listen to what the apostle said to him: 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house'. We often leave those last words off, 'and thy house' - what does that mean? It means that the salvation that is able to save a suicidal man can save a whole household if they believe Christ and embrace the gospel!
You know, Christ can do wonders for your home. He can turn your past into something extraordinary. He can turn your present into something extraordinary, and he can turn your future into something extraordinary. He can change your hell to heaven. The Bible says: 'It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that judgment'. Jesus talked about hell more than He talked about heaven, because it's real. My friend, God doesn't want any man, I believe, in hell. If you will let Him in, He will change your hell to heaven. Is Jesus there in your life, in your home, in your marriage, in your present, in your future? Is He given His rightful place?
The boys at this wedding were astounded, do you know what they said? 'Most folk, they give the best wine out at the start and then they give the diluted stuff out at the end, but you have kept the best wine until last' - that's life with Christ! It's the best! Not second-best! What will you do with the Lord Jesus? Will you let Him in? Will you trust Him as Saviour? The One who loved you so much that He gave His own life for you, that you might be saved? Have life now, and life forevermore in heaven.
Let's all bow our heads. Has God been speaking to your heart? I don't know anything about you, nobody has whispered in my ear and said: 'O, you want to touch this thing here, because so-and-so is affected by that'. Nothing like that has gone on, I wouldn't have anything to do with it even if it had. But if you feel something has come very near to you and touched a raw nerve - listen, you could be here, dear, with a big hat on or, sir, with your Sunday suit on, the Bible under your arm, and everybody thinks everything is rosy in the garden. You could be a member of this very church, but as we say here in Ulster: you go home and hang your fiddle behind the door. There's a lot of that going on, nobody knows what's going on in the home - but God knows. God knows, and you'll have to answer one day for what God and you know - but isn't it wonderful that He comes to us in grace, forgiveness, mercy. Will you come to Him tonight? You say, 'David, what do I do?'. Well, you just say, it is very simple, a child can do it, I did it: 'Lord, I'm a sinner, and I need a Saviour. Save me now, because Jesus died for me'. It's as simple as that, if you mean it and it's sincerely by faith - 'what does that mean?', you say. Well, it means you just believe that it's there for the asking as He said, that all has been done, and you don't need to do anything but receive it. Some of you have heard this message for donkey's years and have complicated it beyond recognition, all the excuses of the day you've been throwing up before Christians and before God. Well, it's so simple: just take that step, and say, 'Lord, I'm a sinner, save me because the Lord Jesus died for me'. He'll come into your life, and the Bible says old things pass away, and all things become new.
Please, I beg of you, if God is meeting with you tonight, if He has spoken to your heart: respond, and I'll tell you - listen carefully to what I'm saying - no one who ever trusted Christ regretted it.
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This sermon was delivered at Shankill Baptist Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording, titled "The Family Crisis" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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