EVERY NEED SUPPLIED
“Mount Zion” Chapel, Watford, Herts.
Mr. H. Crowter
21st June, 1969
“And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, ‘They have no wine’.” John 2, v. 3.
This is a portion of Holy Scripture often repeated at the time when two are joined together in matrimony. You and I are acquainted with its application to this very important period of our lives when the background of parental influence and the old home is left, and the new life launched into as a young couple begin their journey together in the close relationship of husband and wife. In the wisdom of God it was ordained that the beginning of miracles (v.ll) should be associated with such an occasion as this. God had a gracious purpose to fulfil in appointing this
marriage feast at such a time; the Lord Himself, and His disciples, Mary the mother of Jesus also, being there. In verse 1 we read, “On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and .the mother of Jesus was there.” At this time there was nobody better qualified to understand and appreciate Jesus Christ in human form than Mary. He had been some thirty years in the environment of the home at Nazareth, having exercised Himself in the responsibilities and duties of a child to its parent. Mary possessed that intimate knowledge of Him over such a period wherein He kept the law to perfection, always doing the will of His Father, for the perfection of Christ’s obedience and righteousness is associated with the thirty years private pilgrimage as much as the three years of public pilgrimage wherein He was engaged in the ministry and miracles of His public life. We tend to forget the beauty and glory of the private life of Jesus Christ, the home life, the keeping of the law in day to day experience, what may be termed the routine of private duty and responsibility, but this was largely His occupation for a period of thirty years. We may say, “Was not that thirty years lost?” By no means. It was an essential development of God’s sovereign wisdom with regard to salvation’s plan. My friends, you may sometimes think that your private capacity (as opposed to a public ministry) is without use; it being so obscure that you can look up to others engaged in public work saying, “They have every opportunity, but I seem to have none.” There is great opportunity, even in a private capacity, of glorifying God. One of the glories of Christ in a private capacity was His meticulous obedience to the will of Heaven, and you in your private life have the opportunity of considering and doing the will of the Lord, according to the position and place which you are called to occupy.
Well now, Christ Jesus comes forth into the public side of His work having served and pleased God throughout the ‘silent years’;
silent in one sense though not in another, because there is a great voice in example, a voice which sounds forth in the spirit and burden of Mary’s testimony in Cana of Galilee at this wedding feast.
“On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
and the mother of Jesus was there.” It is very important to note that the mother of Jesus was there (v.l), also that Jesus and His disciples were called to the marriage (v.2). I want you to appreciate this in a two-fold way. First, it was according to the purpose of God for the teaching of the disciples who were launching forth at this time into public service. The disciples needed preparation, and the Lord used means to teach them certain foundation truths to promote their usefulness in the public ministry. God moved the hearts of those responsible for inviting the guests to call Jesus and His disciples to the marriage. What a wonderful thing if we learn from this that God has the hearts of all men in His hand, and He turns them whithersoever He will. (Proverbs 21.1).
This thought comes info my mind, and I will freely express if. Sometimes we may be hurt because we are not invited to a certain function, whether it is a marriage feast or any other important occasion. Disappointment may be alleviated by a sense of God’s over-ruling. If God decreed in His eternal counsels that we should be in a certain place at a certain time. He would move the hearts of people to that end. If God determined for your good (Romans 8.28) that you should not be in that place at that time, it is obviously better for you not to be there. What a wonderful thing to believe that God is “God over all!” and that according to His love and wisdom He regulates the hearts of others for our good. Faith says, “My times are in Thy hand.” (Psa. 31.15), and there I would leave them; I am not invited, therefore it cannot be according to the will and wisdom of the Lord that I should go. If you have a conviction in your heart that God’s thoughts are thoughts of peace toward you, not of evil (Jeremiah 29.11), you will be able then by faith to accept that it is better for you not to go. Much of our frustration, disappointment, and hard feeling arises from unbelief; a mean earthbound attitude. Could we by faith see that God is over all, the hearts of all men are in His hand, and He controls our life’s minutest circumstance, much of our trouble, our hard feeling, our unrighteous reaction to a provoking situation would be immediately resolved.
“Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage.” God appointed that they all should be there, for at this occasion it was
ordained from eternity past that the glory of Christ should be manifested. Oh how wonderful to be led to a place and involved in circumstances wherein it has pleased God to manifest the glory of His dear Son! My friends, do we hope and pray that this is the
purpose of our gathering here today, for the glory of Christ to be manifested in our services, and in our meditation in the truth? All will be darkness and death, all will be profitless and pointless if this is not so!
There is a second reason, before referred to, why Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. Can you think of any function or situation associated with your life, especially such an important occasion as a marriage, where you would not desire the Lord to be present, nor His disciples to be concerned therein? I do feel that if we organise or participate in any function and are not free to call Jesus to the occasion, we would be well advised to leave the whole matter alone. If you are not free to pray for the presence of Christ Jesus, and would not like His disciples to witness all that is going on, you had better leave the whole matter absolutely alone. They called Jesus and His disciples to the marriage, and they were free to do so; they had liberty of conscience, for their actions were consistent with the word of God, ‘Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.” (Hebs. 13.4). They were free to call Jesus to the marriage, and we are free to seek the presence of the Lord here in this assembly today.
We rejoice to see those that we know to be the disciples of Jesus come through the doors and associate with us on this occasion. It warms the heart to see familiar faces enter the sanctuary, those that we know love His precious Name and seek to walk in His ways. My friends, let this be the hallmark of our proposed functions and organisationÂ—can we ask the presence of Jesus, and can we freely welcome His disciples to the occasion? Sometimes (and I say this with some personal involvement to my own condemnation), we have been engaged in certain activities wherein we have not felt free to seek the Lord’s presence. We may have been guilty of calling together a company of people, and should have felt really self-conscious had one of the officers of the church opened the door and witnessed what was proceeding within the confines of our own dwellingplaces. My friends, such things ought not so to be. Let me address you as a people with a pastor. Your activities should be so regulated that whatever time your pastor sees fit to call, you are free to give him a welcome to your home, and if you do not want your pastor to see anything that is going on, it is better to desist from the practice, for if your conduct gives offence to a servant of God, how much more will it give offence to the pure eyes of Almighty God? You may do something under the veil of secrecy as far as your pastor is concerned, your deacons, members of your church or even godly parents, but never can you exclude the eye of the Almighty. “Thou, God, seest me” (Gen. 16. 13) is a truth which overshadows our activities, our conversations, wherever we might be, night or day.
It seems that those responsible for this marriage feast had a gracious desire for Christ’s presence, and that those who loved and feared His holy Name should also be present. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was there. A truly blessed company gathered together for such an occasion as this.
With those remarks we come to the text. “And when they wanted wine”. There was a deficiency. On every occasion, however careful the organisers may be, there will be a deficiency. We are imperfect creatures, and our imperfections will always find expression. Support can be solicited from the congregation this afternoon that almost without exception some little hitch will intrude at a wedding. I attended a wedding recently of a near relative when the official photographer had trouble with his cameraÂ—some small mechanical fault. In consequence all were deprived of the official photographs of the occasion which cannot be re-enacted. As far as the photographer is concerned the opportunity is lost, and the photographic record is irrecoverably marred. I recall another occasion when I attended a wedding in a place registered for marriages, but with no appointed person in the congregation, so that the services of a Registrar were sought through the local Registrar’s Office. The Registrar failed to attend and was playing golf at the appointed time of the wedding. When the bride and groom went into the vestry with the minister, there was no Registrar present. You will appreciate the confusion and disappointment which ensued. I do not desire to infer that difficulties of such proportion are encountered at all weddings, but invariably some little thing goes wrong to remind us that we live in an imperfect world, and it is beyond our power to remove every imperfection.
There was a deficiency,Â—”They have no wine.” There is a great deficiency in our gathering here today. I am conscious of it, and I believe many of you are too. The imperfections associated with us in our worship of God are so great that we cannot attain to the end for which we are gathered without Divine help. The condescending favour of our God was implored in our opening hymn, “Descend from heaven. Immortal Dove.” (Isaac Watts).
There was a deficiency as we consider the occasion of the marriage in Cana of Galilee. It is the first step in a covenant relationship between two people, proceeding to the establishment of a home, and the settlement of another family unit in society, but there are deficiencies in every relationship, and these are apparent however intimate and lawful such relationship may be.
One, and One only, is qualified to make up all deficiencies. “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him ‘They have no wine’.” We have no wine, our position is in the negative, and this we have to learn. It brings us into a correct appreciation of our utter dependence upon God, which is constructive to the Glory of Christ and to the profit of our immortal souls. While a man, a woman or a child thinks they are something, they are deceived in themselves, and when they think they can accomplish anything independent of God they are deceiving themselves. “They have no wine”-Â—imperfection imprinted upon all. Let us view ourselves in the negative, not what I have done, what I can do, nor what I am going to do. No, God forbid. “They have no wine” is written over all our activities, ambitions and intentions. We need something beyond our powers to relieve the condition into which sin has brought us, the manifold imperfections and shortcomings of our impotent fallen state.
“They have no wine”. The Lord in His sovereignty has associated this teaching with marriage, essentially a vital link in the chain of the family unit which is the basis of our society. When God created the world He established upon it the family unit. There was Adam, and from Adam was created Eve, and from Adam and Eve proceeded children, Cain, Abel, and so on. When God drowned the world in His justice for the wickedness of them that dwelt therein. He spared Noah and his household in the ark. When the floods receded, the ark settled, and as far as human life is concerned a family unit proceeded from it. My friends, these two scriptural and historical instances tell me indisputably that God’s mind towards society is built up around the family unit. It would be well if we were to come back to the acknowledgment of that in our day and generation, for the further we wander from the family unit as the basis of society, the further we are getting
from the mind and will of God, and it will only bring confusion. We must return to an acknowledgment of the family unit as the basis of society if we are to be in harmony with the mind and will of God revealed. God has blessed the family unit.
Here we have two persons being married together, Christ Jesus, His disciples and His mother present, but they have no wine. Do we seek the presence and blessing of Jesus Christ upon the most intimate relationships of our lives here below? Marriage, to be a success, needs the blessing of Christ, and He alone can turn the water into wine in any relationship. Marriage is a most intimate relationship with far-reaching consequences. It needs the blessing of God to make it successful, to change the water into wine, to supply the need and alleviate the infirmity which besets us all. “They have no wine.”
There is a very practical aspect of the subject in the making up of the deficiency, wherein the precepts of the gospel play a very important part. Take for instance, “Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them” (Colossians 3.19), and “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5.22), and I am talking with liberty here this afternoon being ignorant of your personal situations and relationships. If there is a husband who is living in bitterness against his wife, he is not enjoying peace of mind nor profit to his soul from the union God has granted, and doubtless in consequence of his disregard of the Divine precept his children also suffer. If we neglect the direction of Christ in such matters we involve ourselves in trouble both temporal and spiritual. The standard of truth is the only standard which is profitable unto man. We need the blessing of Christ, and how can we seek it if we are walking inconsistently with the words of Christ? He said, “Fill the water-pots with water” and they filled them up to the brim. They did what He said in so far as their ability enabled. They could not provide the wine, but they could fill the waterpots with water, and they filled them to the brim. Are you filling the waterpot with water? Are you filling it to the brim, doing everything in your power to walk consistently with the truth of God, the way of God revealed? Wives, are you filling the waterpot to the brim in a day when the obedience of the wife to her husband is ridiculed, “Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5.24.)? The forfeiture of this position is bound to produce trouble. Can you ask the Lord’s blessing upon your home and family if so be you are openly violating the wise and gracious precepts of the Lord in such matters? Now you see, “They have no wine”. We cannot make our homes abodes of peace and happiness, do what we will in a natural wayÂ—it is beyond our power. There are so many deficiencies, but O for the Lord’s blessing upon our relationships as husband and wife! What a favour to realise the Lord’s grace and providence uniting in bringing two persons together, that they may live and walk in humble obedience to
His revealed will, waiting and watching for His essential blessing in all things, that the water may be changed into wine.
We now consider other relationshipsÂ—parents and children, children and their parents; masters and servants, and servants and their masters. In His Word the Lord records what His will is concerning such matters. Are we filling the waterpots with water? Do we ask the Lord to bless us in all our relationships? Without the blessing of the Lord the infirmities of fallen humanity are so prevalent. We have it today in the confusion of society. Truly it can be written over all, “They have no wine.”
When we turn to the church of Christ, what relationship shall we touch upon? We gather here today to remember with gratitude the relationship of pastor and people. We consider it in this context, “They have no wine”. Your pastor will not contradict my words when I say there will be nothing from all his labour here apart from the blessing of Almighty God, without the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ. Nothing he can do of himself shall proceed to the glory of God, and for the eternal good of souls. I believe he is well convicted of his impotence, and you can bless God if you have a pastor thus convicted of his hopelessness and helplessness, made and kept conscious of his own sinful infirmities and shortcomings that he has no confidence in the flesh. As for church and congregationÂ—”They have no wine”. No matter how many are present at the services, numbers are not all important. No one likes to see a good congregation gathered for the worship of God more than I. It would rejoice my heart to see every place of worship packed to capacity, and if our problem was the extension of buildings rather than the closure of them, nobody would be happier than I. We live in solemn times, and have good cause to examine ourselves as to why declension is so prevalent amongst us. Nevertheless, congregations “have no wine”. If you fill the body of the church with saints, they have no power over the Spirit to retain the Spirit. God in His mercy has promised to be in the midst where two or three are gathered, but He does not bless a people for any merit in themselves. The promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. (II Cor. 1.20). For Christ’s sake He honours that promise. All our worship is but an empty form apart from the Holy Ghost. “They have no wine”Â—none!! O the absolute dependence of our position upon the blessing of Christ Jesus!
I hope to consider this evening, that, as the servants did as Christ commanded, with Christ’s blessing resting upon their actions consistent with His will, the desired end was accomplished, the deficiency made up. They never had wine like it. To the amazement of the governor of the feast, the last wine was better than all that went before. How essential is the blessing of Christ. Let us be well fixed upon this pointÂ—”Without Me ye can do nothing.” (John 15.5), “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” (John
15.4). This is Scripture from the very lips of Him who preached to perfection. They had no wineÂ—they wanted some. Do we desire the blessing of Christ to rest upon us in every department and relationship of our lives? You say, “There is nothing in anything except as Christ’s blessing and presence is realised, and His power, goodness and grace made known!” “They have no wine.”