Trinity 21 (Eph 6,10–17; Gen 1,1–2,3; Jn 4,46–54)

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᛭ INI ᛭

Today, we’re looking at all three of our readings and how they all relate to each other. Together they will strengthen our faith in Jesus. (That’s the chief benefit or blessing of God’s Word.) But looking at these three readings together will also help us defend our faith in Jesus. This defense fits with what Peter tells us, “In your hearts keep Christ the Lord as holy, always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks a word regarding the hope that is in you.” (1 Pet 3:15)

((A. Ephesians 6:10–17))

The Bible isn’t important just for information. It’s not just because it’s God’s Word as an idea, or that it’s full of truth or rules to live by. God gifts us with His Word for our defense—not just to defend us, but in order to arm us.

All the armor Paul talks about in Ephesians 6 is from God. It’s God’s Armor. He gives that armor through His Word. Each piece of Armor comes from His Word, and this most clearly seen in three pieces: the belt, the sandals, and the sword. The belt is the “belt of Truth,” as Jesus said, “Father, sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is Truth.” (Jn 17) The sandals are “the readiness given by the gospel of peace,” and that Gospel is the Good News of what Jesus has done for us, and that’s all laid out in the Bible (1 Cor 15). Finally, the sword. “The Sword of the Spirit” is “the Word of God.”

God gifts us His armor through the word to withstand our true enemies. We’re armed to “withstand the schemes of the devil” because “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Our enemies aren’t physical. They’re spiritual.

((B. Genesis 1:1—2:3))

That our enemies are spiritual is clear when it comes to Genesis. It’s not just the world that does it, we fall into it, too. Well-meaning Christians are tempted by “the schemes” or “methods of the devil.”

How does this happen with Genesis? Well, the first is to undermine and discredit that Moses was its human author. This “method” has been at work within some circles for awhile now—some 140 years. This is the reason why, in the divine service, I introduce Genesis through Deuteronomy the way I do: “The First Book of Moses called Genesis.”

The world also destroys Genesis by believing that Genesis is not actual, factual history, but myth and legend. Now, many well-meaning Christians combat this, as we should, but they do this by making Genesis 1–2 a science text. Genesis is true history, but making it a science text doesn’t help our case. That’s not why Moses was inspired by the Spirit to write it.

Moses faithfully recounts the first 6 days of the universe. It’s not science because science operates by observation. It’s rather an historical record—what happened. It’s not science. Science can’t explain or observe water forming drying ground, or plants being created before the sun, or light being created from dark waters.

Genesis tells us something science can never observe: God created everything over six days by speaking. God spoke, then light. He spoke, then sky and space. He spoke, then dry land. Each day something new.

((C. John 4:16–54))

Speaking things into reality—that’s exactly what Jesus does! Today, He says, “Your son lives,” and “it was so.” It happened the very moment Jesus said it. Just like in Genesis. “God said,” and “it was so.” Jesus said, “Your son lives,” and “the hour Jesus said [that],” “the fever left” the ruler’s son.

The greatest truth of the Scriptures is not “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The greatest truth is “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14) He dwelt among us to save us, to be “near With His chear, never will He leave me,” as our hymn just put it.

Jesus is Lord over creation. Not just with the ruler’s sick son, because Jesus is “at Cana…where He made the water into wine.” Jesus proves who He is—God. Not just any God, the God who created the universe by speaking. So he healed the sick boy, not by going there or touching him or anything else, but by speaking.

JESUS PROVES HE’S GOD BY WHAT HE DOES, AND THAT MEANS EVERYTHING FOR OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH.

And this means Jesus isn’t some moral teacher, some religious guru. He’s not some “miracle worker,” some spiritual magician, or even some legend or myth. What’s written about what He does, shows who He is. Jesus speaks, and what He said happens. Just like it’s recorded in Genesis.

But it’s not just this healing that proves who Jesus is. It’s His death and resurrection, too. Chiefly that! He was dead, and then He wasn’t anymore. Lots of people saw Him both dead and then not dead anymore. He died and rose just like He said He would. As the Psalmist said, “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Ps 33)”

And if He died and rose again, then the reasons for it are true, too. He died to save us from our enemies. He paid for our sins. He defeats our death. He’ll raise you, too. His promise. What He says happens. The ruler’s sick boy lives. He Himself rose from the dead. You live, too.

JESUS PROVES HE’S GOD BY WHAT HE DOES, AND THAT MEANS EVERYTHING FOR OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH.

((B’. Genesis 1:1—2:3))

This really does affect everything about our Christian faith, and how we read and understand the Bible. Jesus is God who does things by speaking, and so that means Genesis records for us, exactly what we just confessed in the Nicene Creed about Jesus: “by [Him] all things were made.”

He turned water into wine. So also in Genesis: “Let the waters be gathered together, and let dry land appear.” “Let the waters team with living creatures.” The waters produced land and all the water animals.

So also the Lord uses water and word to make you new, to recreate you. Through Holy Baptism, “water combined with God’s Word,” we are “baptized into Christ,” and “if anyone is in Christ He is a new creation.” Gift given by Jesus, received by faith.

JESUS PROVES HE’S GOD BY WHAT HE DOES, AND THAT MEANS EVERYTHING FOR OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH.

And this means, when it comes to Genesis, we believe it’s true because Jesus claimed to be the God who did that stuff, and He came back to life from the dead. (Sort of proved His point.) So also, we believe what we do about our origins not on the basis of what we dig up from the ground but on the basis of what’s never been dug up—the body of Jesus! He lives for you.

((A’. Ephesians 6:10–17))

And that’s the word that routes the devil, that destroys His schemes. That’s the true “Sword of the Spirit” the message, the Gospel, that rescues us and defeats our enemies. Even Genesis is part of the Gospel, telling us who Jesus is, and how He works to save us. This Word about Jesus saves us from our spiritual enemies, even the schemes of the devil. As we’ll sing next week, “One little Word can fell him,” the devil.

God’s Word gets you to the Jesus point. All Scripture points you to Him and Him alone. And Jesus turns us back to all of God’s Word with a greater understanding of who He is for us, to save us. This strengthens our faith in Him.

And we need the Jesus point. To be where He’s at. For where He is, there He saves. Just like for that ruler: “When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him.” For Jesus Himself saves us from those spiritual enemies. God the Father “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

And all that redemption and delivery and transfer happens in a specific place. (He’s exactly where He’s promised to be.) Calvary. Empty tomb. Font—new creation. Altar—His body and blood for you for the forgiveness of sins.

((Conclusion.))

JESUS PROVES HE’S GOD BY WHAT HE DOES, AND THAT MEANS EVERYTHING FOR OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH.

That’s what our readings, taken together, tell us. That’s what Jesus is telling us through these readings! And it really means that Genesis—Revelation tell us all about who Jesus is, what He does for you, what He does for all.

᛭ INI ᛭

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