Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Before Abraham Was I Am - May 26, 2013 - Holy Trinity Sunday - Text: John 8:48-59
Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost Sunday and the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is that person of the trinity of whom we describe as being the third person of the trinity, the Comforter, the Counselor, and the One whose work is sanctification which is the giving and strengthening of our faith. This week, before we get into the Pentecost Season and the Sundays after Pentecost, we take one Sunday to rejoice in and talk about the trinity of God as today is what we call Holy Trinity Sunday.
Interestingly enough, the Old Testament speaks about the trinity of God and in our Old Testament reading for this morning we hear of the trinity of God described as wisdom. King Solomon describes wisdom as creating the world. Of course, we understand that wisdom is most certainly God as there is and can be no true wisdom apart from or outside of God. Yes, there can be some human, sin tainted knowledge, but the Lord and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of true Wisdom. Thus, as Solomon says about Wisdom, “25Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world” (v. 25, 26). In other words, Wisdom is God, who was there creating the world.
Further, Solomon continues speaking about Wisdom saying, “27When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30then I was beside him, like a master workman” (v. 27-30a). In other words, the Wisdom of God established the laws of nature.
Indeed, as Solomon describes Wisdom, we know that Wisdom is God and as we see, moving into the New Testament, God in Jesus is true Wisdom, thus we know His words are true when Jesus says He is truth and when He says He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is God. God is wisdom. Jesus is wisdom incarnate as He is God incarnate.
Moving into our text in our Gospel reading we come to a very usual scene, that is that the Jews, especially the Pharisees and teachers of the law are questioning Jesus and we see the Wisdom of God in Jesus in His answer to the Jews. Jesus answers the Jews by contrasting Himself with them. The Jews accuse Jesus of being a Samaritan and being demon possessed. The Jews despise the Samaritans because they were not pure blooded Jews as they thought themselves to be. The contrast is that Jesus loves all people and Jesus came to save all people. The Jews speak evil of others. The contrast is that Jesus speaks well of all. And the Jews seek their own glory. The contrast is that Jesus seeks the glory of God the Father.
The Jews believed that they had an eternal inheritance in heaven because of their birthright, that is that they were born of the family line of Abraham. They believed theirs was an entitlement based on genetics. They continually failed to understand that the covenant God made to save the world was not a covenant based on family line, or genetics, but was a covenant based on faith, a covenant the children of Israel constantly broke and ultimately gave up. Jesus speaks of a covenant of faith and eternal life through faith in Him.
When Jesus speaks of faith and eternal life, the Jews only see death and their claim is son-ship to God the Father through Abraham. Again, the Jews continually look for salvation in the wrong place. Now, before we proceed, let us understand that there are many in our world today and even among us who are like the children of Israel. And it is not if, but how often do we get ourselves pointed in the wrong direction, thinking perhaps that since our name is on the roles of a church that means we have eternal life. Or, thinking that if we are living as good citizens, not being bad people that we might think we have eternal life. Very much like the Jews, we get it wrong when we fail to understand that God’s covenant with us is a covenant of faith, a covenant which He makes with us and one which He confirms through His Word and Sacraments, a covenant which He delights to make with us and one of which we delight to be apart through our desire to be continually in His Word, hearing His Word in Divine Service and Bible Class, remembering our Baptism, confessing our sins and hearing His Word of Absolution and partaking of His body and blood in His Holy Supper. Indeed, there are too many among us in the Christian Church today who are no different in their lives and actions than the Jews of Jesus’ day.
The Jews continue to show their misunderstanding and their lack of knowledge and faith as they question Jesus concerning His claim of Messiahship. And so, Jesus declares His eternal presence with the words, “I AM.” The words, “I AM,” harken back to the name the Lord gave to Moses in the wilderness when Moses asked who he should tell the children of Israel sent him and the Lord said, “Tell them I AM has sent me.” Indeed, Jesus is rightfully claiming that He is “I AM,” He is truly God in human flesh.
With Jesus claim, the Jews, not believing Him, accuse Him of blasphemy and want to stone Him, but in His divinity He hides Himself and walks right through them, which you would think would be a clue of His divinity, but as usual, they just simply cannot see what Jesus so well demonstrates time and again to them, through the signs, wonders, and miracles He performs. They do not believe and cannot believe that Jesus is the Messiah, God in flesh.
What does this mean? Today on this Holy Trinity Sunday we rejoice and celebrate Jesus dual nature that is that He is truly God and truly human, as we confess in our creeds, that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. We rejoice and celebrate that as true man He lived perfectly for us in our place obeying all God’s laws and commands perfectly. We rejoice and celebrate that as true God He defeated sin, death and the devil.
On this Holy Trinity Sunday we rejoice and celebrate that Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the trinity of God. As we confessed in the Athanasian Creed we do believe in a God who is three persons in one Godhead. We confess that the One God we worship, while being a God of three persons, that the three persons of the trinity are never divided, but always united, so that were the Father is, there is the Son and the Holy Spirit; where the Son is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit; and where the Holy Spirit is, there is the Father and the Son. We also celebrate that there will not be an eternal life in heaven test so that we have to completely and fully understand and explain this trinity of God.
On this Holy Trinity Sunday we rejoice and celebrate God in Jesus living for us, taking all our sins upon Himself, freely, of His own free will, not by compulsion or coercion so that He might suffer the price, the penalty, the cost of eternal spiritual death for us. He died for us the most cruel of deaths and yet most especially we celebrate His rising from the dead for us, thus defeating sin, death and the power of the devil.
On this Holy Trinity Sunday we rejoice and celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit who gives, strengthens and keeps us in faith. It is the work of the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts, minds and eyes to see that Jesus is who He says He is, that is that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, even God Himself in human flesh and blood. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us faith and the faith He gives we rejoice that He gives through the outward means that He has given, His means of grace. We rejoice that as infants, through the simple earthly element of water and His Holy Word, even His name being put on us, we are given faith. Through confession and absolution we are given forgiveness of sins. Through our reading and through our hearing the preached Word, we are given and strengthened in our faith. And through our being given His body and blood, in, with and under the simple earthly elements of bread and wine, in His Holy Supper we are given and strengthened in faith. And certainly as were are given and strengthened in our faith through these very means our desire is to be active in making regular and diligent use of these means so that we might be given even more of the good gifts and blessings our Lord has to give to us.
On this Holy Trinity Sunday we rejoice and celebrate that the Holy Spirit stirs in us to confess our faith with our mouths and to confess our faith through our living lives in response of faith. Indeed, as Paul reminds us that along with creating us to love us, that God created us and redeemed us so that we might do the good works which He prepared in advance for us to do, good works which show forth the faith that He has given to us, good works which work to extend His kingdom on earth by calling others to faith, and good works which give glory to Him and Him alone.
Jesus is true God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, demonstrating His divinity by the signs, wonders and miracles He performed. Jesus is true man, born of the human woman, the virgin Mary, demonstrating His humanity in that He was locally present, was tired, hungry and wept, and died on the cross. Jesus is One with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, true God, with the Father and the Holy Spirit at the creation of the world, took on human flesh and blood in order to fulfill God’s promise to send a Savior. He was believed in by Abraham. And He gives glory to God through His perfect life, suffering, death and resurrection. Today we celebrate the trinity of our God especially in the incarnation and the person of Jesus Christ. And most certainly as we celebrate we are moved to rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.