January 14, 2007: Family First

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You have given us our extended families for a reason—to make our lives more rich and full and to show forth the glory of Your grace in our interaction. Thank You for such opportunities! But You have also placed us into a greater family—the family of faith—whereby we have even greater opportunities to exhibit love and compassion and to let our light shine. May we always follow Your blessed example as we seek to uplift the members of both our families! Amen


TEXT: John 2: 1-11

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

In moments of frustration and stress we often make jokes about our families—since often they appear to be the cause of much of that stress. We say things like: “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.” Or, “You can choose your friends, but not your family.” Now, both those statements are true. And yet, they both overlook the great blessing that our family actually is. For families provide us with avenues of love, closeness, and also pull us out of our inherent selfishness. In a sense, families force us to think outside ourselves by living with and therefore thinking about them.

As Christians you are members not only of your biological family, but also of a much larger family—the Holy Christian Church. So, even if you don’t have kids, or all your relatives are gone, you’re still not alone. You’re still not without family. That’s a comfort. And it should be! For God never leaves His children alone. That being said, very often we abuse or neglect our families by taking them for granted and/or failing to give them the best of ourselves. I guess we’d call that a sin of omission. However, in our lesson we see Christ doing the opposite. We see Him actively putting Himself out for His extended family and thereby covering over our failings in this regard. All this should inspire us to act as He did and to put:



This lesson of Christ’s first miracle, turning water into wine at the wedding of Cana, is very well-known to most Christians. Of course, the main point of this lesson is to teach and remind us that Jesus is the Miracle-Worker, the eternal Son of God, Who came to give us a slice of Godliness. For if He could do this miracle, surely He can do similar things in your life and mine.

What is often overlooked is the unstated obvious. Why was Christ invited to this wedding along with His mother and His disciples? He had not yet done any miracles. He had not yet preached stirring sermons and become a celebrity. So, why invite Him? As I said, the answer is unstated, but obvious. The bride and groom were relatives of Christ. They were part of His extended family. And just as you and I invite relatives to our weddings and even their close friends, so it was in this instance.

As you read between the lines, you get the distinct feeling that Mary was the aunt of one of the bridal party. I remember my wedding and how my aunts inserted themselves into the helping mode during the reception. I’ve seen the same thing happen in most weddings I’ve officiated at. And when you consider that the wedding reception in those days went on for about a week, I’m sure the added help was appreciated!


Wine was the common beverage consumed at these wedding receptions. It was part of their culture. To run out of wine was a huge faux pas. For whatever reason they did. Mary finds out about it and comes to her Son for help. “They have no more wine.” Mary comes to Christ because He is the head of their family and He is also the Messiah. Mary expects Him to assist in some way. Did she expect this miracle? Probably not. At least not in the exact way He did it. And Jesus chides her a bit for her forward behavior. “Dear woman, my time has not yet come.” But, Mary knows the huge heart of her Son and doesn’t give up. She turns to the servants and says: “Do whatever he tells you.”

And “do” Christ did! He has the servants fill 6 large stone jars with water, take them to the master of ceremonies for tasting, and voila! Between 120 and 180 gallons of water becomes the finest wine that fellow ever tasted or ever will. The master taster is amazed. The crowd is amazed. The disciples are amazed. The bride and bridegroom are amazed, pleased, and overjoyed at this wonderful wedding gift! Yes, in this first miracle, Christ took care of family first.


Do you? Now that question may sound mean-spirited, but it isn’t. It’s honest. Do you really place family first in your life, or do you simply mouth the cliché? “But Pastor, I drive my kids to all their soccer games, I work hard all week long to provide a better life for them, I take my family on vacations, I do, do, do for them!” Yes, but is that always placing them first?

Families are the building block of all societies. Countries and governments get their power from families and are collective extensions of families. For it is within the family that morals, values, and right and wrong are taught and learned.  Most of us bemoan the breakdown of our society and talk a lot about the breakdown of “families” within it. We feel rather powerless to prevent such breakdowns from occurring. And yet, just like charity begins at home, so does taking back the family! It begins with each of you.

Jesus doesn’t put off attending this wedding. He makes time. He goes and even brings His disciples with Him because the family of faith is vital to the health of all marriages. Do you make time, quality time, for your kids, your spouse, your relatives, and your church family? Do you actively listen to what they are saying and seek to help them in their needs? Do you honestly share with them your own shortcomings? Do you tell them: “Not right now” and then tell them the reasons why? Always saying “yes” to a family member and never telling them “no” is viewed as love, but it really isn’t love. Recently I saw a T.V. program about parents who spoil their kids by throwing huge birthday parties that cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and who buy anything their kids ask for because they basically want to buy their love. But, such an approach isn’t putting “family first.” It is simply an attempt to rid the parent of guilt over their own inability to teach their kids the ups and downs of life.

Elsewhere in Scripture Christ says: “Who are my mother and sisters and brothers?—Those who do the will of My Father in heaven.” Likewise, He talks about how families can be divided when it comes to faith. All that pain comes from people who are not willing to honestly put both their earthly family and their heavenly one first. It stems from selfishness, an inability to be totally honest, and from a failure to recognize that true love often means saying: “I’m sorry.”

Jesus has provided each of us with families—both earthly and spiritual. So, do as He did, and put the fruits of the Spirit into practice in your family. When you do, you’ll discover that: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control never go out of style. And in Christ neither does forgiveness. Amen