Sermons

Holy Trinity (Jn 3:1–17)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity.”

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: We think we relate to God through knowledge.))

How do you know God? So often we think knowing God is about our understanding. That’s often our problem as Lutherans: our understanding, our right answers so often become our God. Trinity Sunday doesn’t help that ingrained idol because, in the true Christian confession, terms like substance and person are used. These terms are important and helpful in order to confess what the Scriptures say. But when we use our terms to box God up into our understanding, we’re abusing those terms rather than using them properly.

But, on Trinity Sunday, we often double down on thinking that knowing God has to do with our understanding. It’s why there’s an overabundance of analogies trying to reduce God to our understanding. Sorry, but the Triunity of God is NOT like an apple or a clover or anything else in all creation.((4. Ugh!: We can’t wrap our minds around God.))

So, what’s to be done? Reject the terms? No, can’t do that! They help confess who God is. We should reject the analogies because they’re just plain incorrect. But more importantly than that we need to reject ourselves. We need to repent. We need to confess our inability, that we can’t understand God, can’t wrap our mind around Him. Even if you understood all the terms, even if you could come up with an analogy that wasn’t incorrect or didn’t break down so that you could finally “get” it, then that would just show that you’ve lost it.

It’s not about “getting God.” You can’t! And if you’re thinking: “Well, Pastor, I do get it. I learned all this sort of stuff in confirmation. I can wrap my mind around the Trinity.” But what does Paul say? ““Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!”

And if you’re thinking, “Then why bother?” Well, as a Christian you’re duty bound to confess what the Bible says, and terms sometimes help to do that.

((3. Aha!: It’s not a knowledge issue, but a trust issue.))

Trinity Sunday isn’t about knowledge, but about trust. The danger is to fall off the horse and base our relation to God on something other than trust. Whether its by claiming understanding or by claiming something else like emotion, we turn our eyes, our hearts, our minds, our strength to ourselves.

God lays out a different way. His is the way of trust, of Him not you. And for trust to be trust, you must trust something, someone. Not ourselves, our understanding, or whatever else. Jesus! We trust what He does, trust what He says. We trust what He gives. And this gets us to the heart of Trinity Sunday and the entire Christian faith. Jesus does. Christianity isn’t about wrapping your mind around God with understanding and that’s how you know you’ve got Him, or wrapping your heart around Him with emotions and that’s how you know you have Him. No.

THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS ABOUT GOD WRAPPING HIMSELF AROUND YOU WITH HIS NAME IN HOLY BAPTISM.

((2. Whee!: This is because Jesus reveals the Trinity.))

How can this be so? Well, that’s what Jesus is talking about in our text! Jesus as the eternal Son reveals the Trinity. He was sent from the Father, conceived by the Spirit. The Son wrapped Himself in human flesh so that He could save us from boxing Him up like Nicodemus did, so that He could be crucified and die, so that He could rise again from the dead. All for you! Jesus coming back to life proves what He said: He is the Son of the Father. It’s only because of Jesus that we know there is a Father or a Spirit, and without the Spirit we could not trust Jesus. If you have Jesus, then you have the Father, and if you have them, you have the Spirit, too.

Dying and rising, Jesus proved Himself to be trustworthy, and so we also trust whatever else He says, and so we also trust what He gives. He gives Holy Baptism. That’s what He’s talking with Nicodemus about. Holy Baptism is the “birth from above.” It is the “birth of water and the Spirit.” As St. Paul also says in Titus 3. In Holy Baptism, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit first encountered you. There you were wrapped in that Name.

There again Jesus revealed the Trinity to you, delivered the Trinity to you. That’s the whole point. It’s not about wrapping your mind around God, but about receiving God, being wrapped up in Him, wearing His name. He delivers that Name. Jesus, the Son, wanted that to happen. In fact, so did the Father. For that’s the Father’s love: you being His baptized child.

Yes, there is to be trust. But what are you to trust? Who are you to trust? In Holy Baptism, the birth of water and the Spirit, trust is given you so that you trust the gift and promises of Baptism, but also trust Jesus who gave Baptism along with its precious promises.

((1. Yeah!: Jesus delivers you to the Trinity.))

THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS ABOUT GOD WRAPPING HIMSELF AROUND YOU WITH HIS NAME IN HOLY BAPTISM, and that’s not only about relating to God in this life, but also in the life to come. Since you’ve been wrapped in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Son promises that you will see and enter God’s kingdom. You can trust that promise. So trust it! Don’t go after other things, base your relation to God on things like your knowledge and understanding, things like your feelings, things like what happens to you in your day to day life.

Rather Jesus: what He’s done, what He says, and what He gives. Jesus as the Son reveals the Trinity in His death and resurrection for you, as the Son He delivers God and His triune Name to you at the Font, but Jesus as the Son also brings you to Himself, delivers you to His Father, too. The Spirit will raise you from the dead. You will see the Kingdom. That’s the promise of Baptism as Jesus says, and so you are delivered to the Trinity.

((Conclusion.))

“The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” That’s the Christian faith. But what we say, confess, sing, and believe isn’t about wrapping our mind or anything else around the Triune God. As the Son says today, it’s ABOUT GOD WRAPPING HIMSELF AROUND YOU WITH HIS NAME IN HOLY BAPTISM so that you will live forever with Him in His Kingdom. A preparation and foretaste of that given in His body and His blood.

“Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity.”

INI + AMEN.

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