************ Wedding Sermon on John 13:34-35 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 30, 1998
Wedding Message for Ryon & Jennifer Van Essen
Scripture: John 13:34-35
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (35) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
I Love One Another
"Love one another." That's what the wedding text picked by Ryon & Jennifer says. But what is love here? What does it mean?
I have pointed out to almost every couple I have ever united in marriage that there are four words for love in the Greek language.
The first is "eros." This is a "getting" love. Eros is usually associated with sexual love. The basic element is a desire, a will to possess seeking satisfaction. Eros exists because it sees something desirable in another. Eros flickers and fades as the winds of desire rise and wane.
The second word for love is "stergo." This is a "caring" love. This is the natural love which we have for others. As human beings we love others as part of humanity. This love recognizes that all men are closely bound together, dependent on each other, and obligated to each other because of their common humanity. This is the love that we show to a neighbor in need or that we have for the poor and hungry we try to assist.
"Philos" is a third word for love. This is a "sharing" love. This word expresses the affection we feel for those close to us. It is called out of the heart by the pleasure one takes in another. It is the love between friends or among family. It is based on common interests, common attractions, and a close sharing of many things.
The final Greek word for love is "agape." This is a "giving" love. It is a love which impels one to sacrifice for the benefit of the other person. This love seeks to give rather than to get. Agape love keeps on loving even when the other person doesn't respond; agape love keeps on loving without asking for anything in return.
Husbands and wives should have all four kinds of love for each other. Agape love, though, has to be predominant. Unless agape controls the others, the first three kinds of love will be too empty to endure the conflicts and difficulties of marriage. Eros, stergo, and philos are to be controlled and enriched by agape.
It is this last kind of love – agape love – that the wedding text picked out by the bride and groom speaks of. Ryon and Jennifer, you are to have an agape love for each other – a love that puts the other person and his or her welfare first.
II As Christ Loved
Ryon and Jennifer, your wedding text not only says, "Love one another." It also says, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." It is Jesus Who is speaking here. Here is a reminder that the best example of agape love is Jesus. It is Jesus, more than any other, Who shows us the true measure of agape love. To see love, true agape love, we don't look to ourselves, our spouses, or any other human; to see love, true agape love, we look to Jesus. He is agape love in action.
You all know how Jesus showed His agape love. He gave of Himself to the sick, the poor, the troubled, the down-trodden, the lost in sin. Out of agape love He healed, He prayed, He fed, He taught, He raised from the dead. Especially, though, He went to the cross and the grave. His love, His great and wondrous agape love, led Him to die for us so that we could be saved.
Ryon and Jennifer, you are to imitate Jesus and have this kind of love for each other. Like Jesus, you are to have a love that leads you to make sacrifices for the good of the other.
Throughout history there have been many who have imitated Jesus and showed this kind of love:
Topic: LoveJoe Roberts, we would have to say, imitated Jesus and showed agape love.
Subtopic: The Test
Title: Love in Action
In her book, Living with Love, Josephine Robertson tells a story. "In 1883, a youthful clergyman, the Rev. Joe Roberts, arrived by stagecoach in a blizzard to minister to the Indians of Wyoming. This great, wild area had been assigned to the Protestant Episcopal Church by President Grant. Soon after Joe Roberts arrived, the son of the chief was shot by a soldier in a brawl, and Chief Washakie vowed to kill the first white man he met. Since this might mean the start of a long, bloody feud, young Roberts decided to take action. Seeking out the tepee, fifteen miles away in the mountains, he stood outside and called the chief's name. When Washakie appeared, Roberts opened his shirt.
"I have heard of your vow," he said, "I know that the other white men have families, but I am alone. Kill me instead."
The chief was amazed and motioned him into his tent. "How do you have so much courage?" he asked.
Joe Roberts told him about Christ, His death, His teachings.
They talked for hours. When Joe left, the chief of the Shoshones had renounced his vow to kill and resolved to become a Christian.
III Show Discipleship
Ryon and Jennifer, let me quickly point out the result of having this kind of love. Jesus says, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." There is a song we sing that says the same thing: "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love; yes, they will know we are Christians by our love."
When we love one another as Jesus loved us when He died upon the cross, then we prove that our faith is real and genuine. And, when we love one another as Jesus loved us when He died upon the cross, then our lives become a testimony and a witness to the entire world. Ryon and Jennifer, and every other married couple here, the way that you love one another will either attract people to the Lord or drive them away from the Lord.
IV How This Love Becomes Ours
Do you want this love? I'm speaking not just to Ryon and Jennifer but to every married couple here. Do you want this love that gives for the good of the other person? Do you want this love that proves your faith to be real and is a testimony to the world?
We may want relationships marked with agape love but agape love is not available to everyone. Agape love is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ. "We love," says the apostle John, "because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19). Agape love, that giving of self for the sake of the other, is possible only in union with Christ. This means, bride and groom, that yours is to be a Christ-centered home – a home in which Christ is Lord, a home in which both of you serve the Lord.
Ryon and Jennifer, acknowledge Jesus as the Lord of your home and the Master of your life. And, in union with Christ, yours is and will be a relationship marked with agape love. In union with Christ put on agape love. And, this I promise, yours will be a happy, fulfilling, wonderful marriage relationship.
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