Summary: For any marriage to succeed, partners must respond with forgiveness from the very heart of Jesus. Whether it is marital unfaithfulness, mistreatment, or any other reason, forgiveness must reign.

Second only to our relationship with God, marriage is the single most important relationship that we will ever have. People enter into a marriage with great joy and wonderful expectations of spending the rest of their days with the love of their life. Vows are exchanged, commitments are made, and the journey of learning how to make two distinctly different individuals become one begins.

*According to statistical evidence compiled by the Barna Research Group in 1999, on average, 25% of all marriages end in divorce.

What is even more disturbing is that believers are more likely to get divorced than non-believers!

*Among professing born-again Christians, 27% are currently, or have previously been, divorced, compared to 24% among adults who are not born-again Christians.

Rural areas tend to have fewer divorces compared with heavily-populated cities and their surrounding suburbs. Divorce is much less likely in the Northeast than anywhere else in the U.S. Only 19 percent of the residents of the Northeast have been divorced, compared with 26 percent in the West and 27 percent in the South and Midwest.

*Contrary to popular belief, the statistical evidence shows that, on the average, second marriages actually last four years less than the first marriage.

It has been said, and I think rightly so, that *Marriage at its best is a struggle. In order for a marriage to continue and grow strong, it must flow in forgiveness.

During biblical times it was customary for fathers to select wives for their sons. The betrothal, or engagement period, could last up to two years. On the wedding day, the bride would bathe and put on richly embroidered white robes. She would then cover her face with a veil, adorn her head with a garland of flowers, and wait for the groom to come to take her away to the wedding ceremony.

The groom, surrounded by his closest friends, would leave his home and begin his journey to pick up his bride. As they proceeded through town, the procession got bigger and bigger as people from each house they passed would join with them-until finally they would arrive at the home of the bride’s parents. Once at her home, they would both proceed to the marriage supper, or wedding feast, which could be held at either the home of the groom’s father or of the groom.

This was a joyous procession, with the invited guests singing and dancing to the sound of musical instruments as they moved through the streets. Everyone gathered together for a huge banquet, the vows would be made, and the marriage consummated. Wedding festivities would sometimes continue for up to two weeks!

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He attended a wedding in Cana in Galilee. The story is told in John 2:1-11: "Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ’They have no more wine’ ’Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ’My time has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ’Do whatever he tells you.’

"Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ’Fill the jars with water;’ so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ’Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’

"They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ’Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best till now.’" (John 2:1-10)

Jesus chose to perform His first miracle at this wedding. By His transforming power, He caused water to acquire a new form.

*He showed Himself to be the God of nature by doing this.

In the Old Testament, we see that at the beginning of Moses’ miracles there was the turning of water into blood. (Exodus 4:9; 7:20) By turning water into wine as the first of His miracles, Jesus was showing the difference between the law of Moses and the law He was to preach the law of love.

The curse of the law turns water into blood, the blessing of the Gospel turns water into wine. Wine represents His spirit. Water represents our spirit. This wine was unfermented, pure with no decay. Our marriages can maintain their purity and avoid decay as we open ourselves up to being filled with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

In the Old Testament, the word "marriage" is used to describe God’s spiritual relationship with His chosen people, Israel. (Psalm 45; Isaiah 54:6) When God’s people fell into sin, especially idolatry, the sin was likened to adultery on the part of a wife. (Jeremiah 3:1-20)

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