(Jesus said) "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:12-13
Speaking about his 29-year-old comrade, Sgt. Dennis Weichel, another sergeant stationed in Afghanistan said "That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back, if you needed it. He was that type of guy."
I never knew the sergeant, but I do know his giving didn't stop with his shirt.
Let me tell you Weichel's story. A National Guardsman from Rhode Island, Weichel was riding in a convoy of heavily armored trucks. The convoy was stopped when they came upon a group of Afghani children, who were picking up shell casings lying on the road. (The children turn in the brass, and they make some money.)
Weichel and some of his comrades got out of their truck and moved the kids off the road. The convoy started up and Weichel was ready to get back into his truck. That's when a little girl ran back into the road to snatch up just a few more casings.
Weichel saw what was happening and raced to save the girl. He managed to accomplish that.
Yes, Weichel saved the girl, but he, himself, was killed.
Dennis Weichel was the father of three children.
Scripture says there is no greater love than that which is shown by someone who lays down his life for his friend. Since that was said by the Savior, I can't disagree. But I can say it is a pretty great love when someone lays down his life for a stranger. That's what Weichel did. I doubt if there was any time to consider risking his life to save someone whom he had never met before. He certainly didn't have the opportunity to weigh the positives and negatives of risking himself to rescue a stranger. He did what he felt he had to do.
And as long as we're talking about greater loves, we would have to say, greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his enemies.
Dying in place of an enemy is not something a soldier does. It's not the kind of sacrifice any normal person does. Even so, that is exactly what the Savior did for sinful humanity. When He was born, He wasn't welcomed. When He died, people laughed and jeered. Between those two events there was a mass of hatred directed against our Lord.
Unbelievably, no matter what people said, Jesus continued on in His mission to save us.
His is the kind of love which can come out of the heart of the Lord who is love.
Think about this for just a moment. While Sgt. Weichel may be the kind of guy who would give you the shirt of His back, Jesus was the Savior who offered His back to the Roman lash, so the prophecy might be fulfilled and we might be saved.
Greater love? I should think so.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we often hear of times when Christians sin. Sadly, the world doesn't share the sacrifice of men like Sgt. Weichel. May those whom he loved be comforted by remembering his great sacrifice. May we also be given a spirit of gratitude for the sacrifice of our Savior. In His Name we pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries