Today we celebrate the union of Yamikani and Nondumiso, or, Boti Karni and Sesi Miso…as our congregation in Mbhokota Village affectionately refers to them. The word “boti” means “brother” in Tsonga and the word “sesi” means “sister”. Ironically, this means that this wedding ceremony today is not the formation of their first relationship together. God forged a relationship between these two some years ago. It was not a union in marriage. It was a union with Christ.
FAMILY BY BLOOD
For some years now they have referred to each other as brother and sister. This didn’t come come through family blood but through Jesus’ blood. This has not always been the case.
The Bible teaches that no one is born in the family of God but only in the family of His greatest enemy, Satan. Paul calls unbelievers “children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:3) and Jesus calls unbelievers children of their father the Devil (Jn. 8:44). No one is born a Christian, the way Muslims say they are born a Muslim or the way a boy is born a prince into a royal family or the way a girl may be born a princess because her father is a king.
Karni was born a Katunga and Miso was born a Hlela, but no one is born a Christian, even if they are born into a Christian family. Being born to Christian parents does not make you a Christian any more than being born the child of a World Cup winner makes you a soccer star.
What this means is that salvation is really a transfer of families. When a sinner turns from his sin in repentance and looks to Jesus in hope and faith, not only does God instantly give him eternal life and the Holy Spirit, but God also becomes his Father. God makes him one of his children. For this reason Scripture uses the idea of adoption to explain how people are saved. They move from one family, a family of darkness, misery and sin, and into another family, a family of light, joy and righteousness. John says: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Jn. 1:12).
What does this mean now for your new life together as husband and wife? It means that this is the second time your relationship will change with each other. The first time it changed is when you became brother and sister in Christ. Now your relationship will change again. You are now husband and wife.
5 CRUCIAL WORDS
I want to focus on just five words today. They come from Ephesians 5, the greatest passage defining marriage and the roles in marriage. It teaches that marriage is a three-legged stool. First, marriage is commenced by consent, whereby a man and woman agree to leave their parents. Second, it is continued by commitment, whereby they make vows to each other. Third, marriage is concluded by consummation, whereby the couple becomes one flesh.
I want to zoom into verse 25. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” How is a husband to do this? Let’s look at just one way. Karni, you are to love Miso by voluntarily giving yourself up for her, as Christ did for the church.
CHRIST’S VOLUNTARY DEATH
It is difficult for one to imagine an act as “loving” when that person gave up their life by coercion. Jesus was not forced to give up his life. He gave it up willingly. He “gave himself up”. “The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”. (Jn. 15:13).
Karni, you’ll soon realize how many ways you’ll have to love Miso sacrificially. When it gets hard, look to Jesus, look to Christ’s example of how to do this.
Jesus gave himself up in ways beyond the cross. He voluntarily gave himself up in the incarnation when he took on human nature and came to earth as a baby. He gave himself up in temptation in that he subjected himself to Satan’s enticement, yet without sin. He gave himself up in humiliation in that he was subject to hunger, thirst, and fatigue. He gave himself up in the crucifixion in that he died for sinners on the cross.
This shows that a primary aspect of a husband’s love for his wife is that he often, voluntarily, puts himself in difficult situations so that she can be in an easier, more comfortable situation.
The husband may work extra hours so that she can give more time to the home and kids. He stays up late and wakes up early so she can get more rest. He takes the blame for arriving to the party late even though she may have delayed their appearance. He is content with simple clothing so that she can clothe her household with scarlet. He walks on the side closest to the road. He gives her his jacket on a chilly afternoon. He stands in front of the bullet. He gets up in the middle of the night (every single time!) when there is a suspicious sound outside.
Chivalry didn’t begin with knights of the round table joisting to their deaths in hopes of winning their fair lady’s glance. Chivalry began in Genesis with Adam carrying the blame of Eve’s first sin and found its apex in the God Man come to earth.
A FEW DANGERS TO AVOID
- Don’t hide, Jesus didn’t.
Jesus prayed at a common spot so as to be found easily (Jn. 18:2). The point is that Jesus wasn’t hiding from pain. There is a kind of husband that knows all the right answers when it comes to running the race for his wife, but when the actual gun goes off, he’s nowhere to be found. Not Jesus. You always knew where to find him. Nothing could stop him from dying for his bride.
- Don’t escape, Jesus didn’t.
When Jesus miraculously drove the soldiers back, he didn’t try to flee (Jn. 18:6). Husbands must love their wives by controlling their power as Jesus did. Jesus flattened his enemies: power. Jesus was bound like a lamb: love. A husband may have the strength to bench press his wife but loving her like Jesus means he doesn’t use this strength as a way to avoid his responsibilities.
- Don’t change your mind, Jesus didn’t.
Jesus would not come down from the cross when provoked to do so (Mt. 27:42). Husbands will be coaxed to take the easy way out, just as the enemies of Jesus sought to lure Him away from hardship. Husbands love their wives by avoiding shortcuts in their marriage
There is a Tsonga proverbs that says Ndlopfu a yi tsandziwi hi timhondzo ta yona. An elephant is not borne down by the weight of his tusks. Meaning, a man is not discouraged by the responsibility toward his family.
There is not greater example of this than the Lord Jesus Christ. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
Karni and Miso, may the Lord bless and keep you. May he pour upon you the blessing of many, many children. We have seen today that your previous relationship as brother and sister in Christ has turned into a new relationship as husband and wife in matrimony. A bond previously formed by the blood of Jesus has now been formed through oaths. May all who look upon this blessed union see a picture of Christ’s love for his Church.