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Christ And The Common Life

Christ And The Common Life poster

“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. 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.”—John 2:1–11

This was the beginning of His miraculous ministry. Two months prior to this event, He left His home at Nazareth and came forth to the Jordan where John the Baptist was preaching so terrifically against sin, and during the sixty days that intervened, some wonderful things transpired. He was not only baptized by John, He was also anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, which came upon Him in the form of a dove. He was then led by the Spirit up into the wilderness where forty days and nights were spent in a terrible conflict with the evil one and the powers of darkness. All that took place there we shall never know, but we do know that Satan was defeated and Jesus came forth triumphant to the Jordan again where John declared Him to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

The day following that public statement, the Baptist was talking to two of his disciples, when Jesus passed by, and the preacher, calling the attention of these disciples to the Master said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And these two disciples, John, the writer of the Gospel, and Andrew, left the preacher and followed Jesus.

They spent a whole day in His presence. What a day that must have been! Then they did what I believe is the most natural thing for a man to do when he hath come in contact with the Christ. They went out to find someone else and bring them into the fellowship which means more to men than anything else in this wide world. Andrew did about the biggest thing any man ever did do. He found his brother a big, rough, blaspheming fisherman, and he brought him to Jesus. It is much easier to talk to strangers about Christ and His love than it is to deal faithfully with our own flesh and blood.

The next day, Philip was added to this brotherhood, and he following the example of Andrew, found his old friend Nathaniel, a student of prophecy. He was frightfully prejudiced against anything that came out of Nazareth, but Philip urged him to “come and see.” This was the slogan of those early soul-winners.

It is great to have a Christianity that you are not afraid to have tested, a Christ to Whom you can invite men with utmost confidence, knowing that He will meet their need and solve the problems of their hearts. All that we have to do is to bring them into His presence, and He undertakes the rest.

When Jesus saw Nathaniel, He said, “Behold an Israelite, indeed, in whom is no guile!” So astonished was he at this greeting that he exclaimed, “Whence knowest thou me?” And the Master replied, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.” This is one of the evidences of His deity.

In the last verse of this chapter, John states that He “needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” He is a “discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.” Before you speak a word, He can tell you all about yourself. When Nathaniel learned this, he said unto Him, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” Just to hear His word, just to look in His face, dissolves all your doubts, answers all your questions. It is no trouble to believe when you are in His presence. How suggestive were the words the Master uttered in response to that declaration of faith, “Because I said unto thee…believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these.” And so we do. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” The real Christian life is anything but dull and monotonous. Each new day brings its trials and difficulties, but these are all met with God’s promises which are always up-to-date, ready-made for the very occasion, bringing a deeper consciousness and fuller vision of the Divine Presence. “Thou shalt see greater things” is the principle upon which the Christian life is lived.

Here we have the beginning of Christian discipleship, the beginning of true brotherhood. We hear a lot about brotherhoods these days, but there never was a real brotherhood of man outside of this circle formed on the banks of the Jordan. We may join all of the societies on Earth, know all the secrets and signs, but the spirit of real brotherhood is only found in genuine Christianity, for “One is our Master, and all we are brethren.”

First—Christianity Is Consistent With The Common And Ordinary Affairs Of Our Everyday Life. In the narrative which I have read you, we see the Master and His disciples attending a wedding feast in the highlands of Galilee, and this fact, with what took place on that occasion, suggests to us some very practical and timely truths. One of the principle reasons for the Jews rejecting Jesus was that He did not come to them in the regular order of their prophets. The Old Testament order of the Holy Man was a life of seclusion. The prophet lived in a solitary place like John the Baptist in the wilderness, coming forth to the people from time to time with some great burning message from God. He was different from the common crowd. But Jesus lived a life of the ordinary boy in a little village and worked as a common artisan among men, building houses and making ox-yokes and furniture. He touched life in the common place. For thirty years He lived in a little gossipy village and pleased God. What a lesson this teaches us. You will remember that before He ever preached a sermon or performed a miracle of any kind, that the heavens opened and the Father said, “This is my beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased.” That testimony from the heavens must have referred to His life in the village of Nazareth. You may not be able to preach a sermon or sing a solo, you may never come into the limelight in other respects, you may have to live your life behind the counter or in the kitchen or on the farm, but remember Jesus pleased God as a carpenter.

Is it not suggestive that He chose for His intimate friends Galilean fishermen who were looked upon as being “unlearned and ignorant men?” He could appreciate culture and refinement, but He “went in with the publicans and sinners.” And when the Pharisees demanded a reason for his conduct, the only explanation He ever deigned to give was “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” We have learned that if you want to save the lost, you must go where they are.

I have been greatly impressed with those words that occur and recur so often in the record of His ministry,—“He touched them.” He touched the leper, He touched the blind man’s eyes, He touched the dumb man’s tongue, He touched the deaf man’s ears. I do not attach any theological value to that phrase, but it does suggest why “the common people heard Him gladly.” “He touched them.” So many of His followers and professing ambassadors fail in their ministry because they lack the tender touch of the Son of God.

I saw a cartoon some years ago, in a paper, of a wealthy young lady distributing Christmas cheer in a poor district. She had rapped at the door and a little girl with uncombed hair had opened it, and the young lady was handing in a basket from the end of her parasol, and the child was refusing to take it, contemptuously sticking out her tongue. It was rather a rude picture, but it did suggest that the poor do not want charity from the end of a parasol. We preachers would do well to remember that the anointing with the Holy Spirit meant to Him “preaching the gospel to the poor and healing the broken-hearted,” and this needs such a tender touch. Only the Holy Ghost can make us equal to this ministry.

SECOND—The World Always Gives Its Best First, and afterward “when men have well drunk, then that which is worse.” We make proverbs about this fact,—“The best apples are on the top of the barrel.” “The bargains are always in the shop windows.” “The bait covers the hook.” The prodigal in the fifteenth chapter of Luke was fascinated by the “feasting” and dancing in that far country. Satan let him see only the tinsel, and so great was the glitter that the boy could see nothing else, and with his pockets full, he started for the good time which ended in the same old tragedy. First there was the feast, and then the famine, singing with harlots, then starving with swine. That bit of history is being repeated in thousands of lives tonight. The devil never even changes the bait. Before the blood of one victim is dry, another is in the trap

After giving a young man something to eat one evening, I asked him if he would mind joining me in a word of prayer, and he knelt by the side of his chair while we asked God to save him and deliver him from the great drink curse. When he was leaving me at the door a few minutes later, he burst into tears and said, “I have not always been a beggar. I have not always worn clothes like these,” looking at his filthy rags, “and while you prayed for me in there I could hear my mother’s voice in prayer again as if it had been this morning.” I said, “Where is your mother?” “She is in a churchyard in New York State,” and then, trembling from head to foot in a great surge of emotion, he sobbed out, “Oh! God, look at me!” And my heart went out for that poor slave. I assured him that God was looking at him, and that he had been sent to my door not only for the bread that perisheth, but that he might eat of the Bread from heaven and drink of that Living Water and thirst no more. I’ll never forget what he said as he left that door. “You’re too late, you’re too late, preacher. You do not know what goes on in here,” tapping on his breast. “Why,” I said, “never too late. What goes on in there?” “Ah! There are times when I could cut a man’s throat for a drink of whisky.” This, before he went down the road of the prodigal in the far country to have a good time, but he was now in the afterward. He had well drunk, and the devil was giving him “that which is worse.”

THIRD—When Our Own Resources Fail, Then His Powers Shall Most Prevail. It was when their wine had run out that He performed the miracle. We have heard it said that God always helps men who help themselves. That is not the Gospel. God helps men that cannot help themselves if they trust Him. Indeed, He never performs a miracle until we have reached the end of our own strength. When we have no confidence left in the flesh, when we throw up our hands in surrender and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” He turns the water into wine. There are none too bad for God. There are none too weak or sinful to be saved. Most folks are too good. They need no physician. They are too strong. They can rely upon themselves and God lets them do it. Have you ever noticed in the Gospels that the persons whom He delivered and saved and did such wonderful things for were all absolutely bankrupt,—a leper—incurable, and an outcast; a blind man, the woman who had spent all her living, etc. Oh, it is our sinfulness, our helplessness that appeals to His grace and power.

“For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.”

FOURTH—Jesus Would Have A Place In Our Home Life. How significant that this man who came from heaven to redeem the world should begin His public ministry by spending a day at a wedding with some poor family, and seemingly He was there for no other reason than to make it a happier wedding and a better day. A wedding means the beginning of a new home, which should be the most sacred of all institutions in our modern civilization. I wonder why more people do not invited the Master to the marriage. Why do we not welcome Him to our table and fireside? Ah, me thinks that many misunderstand the Christ. They imagine that He will cast a chill upon their joys, that He might put out the fire on the hearth, that He might unstring the harp and fill the air with discordant sounds. Oh! What a mistake! Did He spoil this wedding? Was this home any poorer from having the Christ at the table? There will come times in every life when the wine runs out, reverses will come, Satan will seek to cause divisions and separations, and death will visit the palace as well as the hovel, but if He is there, what a difference it will make when the wine runs out. He is the “High Priest that can be touched with all the feelings of our infirmities.” He only can say, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Why do we exclude Him from our home life? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear my voice and will open the door, I will come unto Him and sup with Him.” He Who said those words is the same who turned the water into wine up in Galilee. He would be guest at thy house tonight. The reason why He did not attend your wedding is that He was not asked. These folks “invited Jesus.” They wanted Him in their home, but alas, alas, most folks shut the door in His face. He stands and knocks and they hear His voice, but they do not want Him.

I think it is Gypsy Smith, the celebrated evangelist, that tells of a little girl seated by her father’s side listening to a lecture on “The Life of Christ” that was so deeply moved with Holman Hunt’s great picture of the thorn-crowned Christ standing at the barred door was thrown on the screen. A hush came over the great congregation and the lecturer uttered not a word. In the silence, the little girl said to her father, “Don’t they want Him in?” “Hush,” said the father, “it is only a picture.” But again, more insistent than ever, the little girl cried, “I know they hear Him. I know they hear Him, but they don’t want Him in.”

Ah friends, that is the sin of so many tonight. They have heard and heard again and again, but they don’t want Him in.