Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

The Holy Trinity

"The Holy Trinity: compassionate, committed, commissioning"

Matthew: 28:19-20

June 11, 2017

Today is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity. The concept of the Trinity is a stumbling block and even foolishness to the unbelieving world. It can't be true because it makes no sense. It's philosophically untenable. Why would the early church fathers invent something they couldn't explain or easily teach?

To many people the concept of the Holy Trinity is as indiscernible as a child who questions the logic and authority of a parent. The child wants something. The parent says "no." The child asks "why?" The parent ends the discussion with "because I said so." The child isn't satisfied but that's the end of the conversation. Children grow up. At some point "because I said so" isn't enough. Adults also want answers. We won't sit back and take a ". . . because, I said so" as a satisfactory answer. We won't take that answer from friends, family or politicians. The church would have died out long ago if the teaching of the Holy Trinity were the figment of some religious "because I said so" imagination.

Nevertheless, the Holy Trinity is a mystery for us. This is not a mystery in the sense of a "who-done-it" where we gather clues and solve the case. This is mystery in its original sense. It is the incomprehensible that we cannot dissect nor fathom it. The Lord doesn't demand that we dissect or define the Trinity. We're simply to believe it. Jesus identifies the name and the mystery of the Holy Trinity is today's Gospel reading.

Matthew 28:19-20. Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

To us then, the fullness of the Holy Trinity is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. This revelation has been deliberately gradual on God's part. We would not be ready or able to receive the fullness of God all at once. It seems everyone believes in God. Most generic religious people have little trouble visioning God as "Father." They have little problem with monotheism or the oneness of God. So far, so good. But, when Christians expand that oneness into the Holy Trinity, here's the stumbling block. One is understandable. Even three is understandable but Three in One is another concept all together. Yes, people will agree, God is One. Bring in the Trinity and people resist.

Why? We can get one. Three in one seems too far-fetched. The two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen remain invisible, yet, people see water. They can touch and taste water. But each molecule of that water is made up of three atoms that we can't see. In the same way, God remains invisible to us, but we see in nature the handiwork of God. Yet, because God remains invisible to us, we are inclined to resist and reject His triune nature.

Scripture tells us that in the fullness of time, God revealed Himself. In the Old Testament reading of the creation we understand that the Father could have created all things but did this through His Son. On the day of Pentecost, we understand that although the Son could have taught and revealed all things, He left the fullness of His revealing to the Holy Spirit. Left to human imagination, how would the idea of the Holy Trinity ever take hold as the nature, essence and revelation of God? How has the church survived for 2000 years if this was all the figment of man's imagination? The miracle is that God refuses to allow His name to die.

God chose to reveal Himself through the promises He gave to Abraham. When Israel became a great nation, He continued to reveal Himself to the people through the prophets. In the fullness of time, God sent His son into the world. In the mystery of the incarnation Christ comes to us.

Christ comes to us in His great compassion. As sinners, we could not save ourselves from the wrath of God. In His mercy Christ took our humanity. His love for us is revealed in the Gospel. He proved His great love for us by opening His arms to die on the cross. Even as He reached out to us, He was rejected. On the night He was betrayed, all of His closest friends deserted Him.

We see our risen Lord's great Compassion when He came to His disciples. After His resurrection, He approached them. The text says, "some doubted." Perhaps the idea is better expressed that they "hesitated." And, why wouldn't they? These were the same guys who had deserted Him in His time of need and denied knowing Him. If you had done that, wouldn't you feel a little embarrassed? Is it any wonder they were hesitant to approach Him. Nevertheless, He only receives them once again but entrusts them with the treasure of the Gospel.

Just before His ascension and final departure from them, Jesus gives them the Great Commission. The risen Lord now sends his disciples into the world. All of them are the recipients of the promise of baptism, including the fallen, the weak and those who were hesitant. When you think about it, that's all of us at one time or another. Each generation tells the Good News to the next.

In the mean time, we have our Lord's continuing Commitment to His people. He promises to be our Immanuel, [God] with us. He continues to come to us in His word and in the sacraments. Just as the three atoms come together to from a molecule of water, so the Holy Trinity unites Himself with the water of baptism to touch us with His refreshing love.

Water is also the chief ingredient in bread and wine. In, with and under simple bread and wine, Christ gives us His true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Here is another mystery. How does that happen? We're not told to dissect or explain this. We're told only to believe. As we believe, the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith and confirms in our hearts the wonder and joy of the mystery.

Although we cannot know everything we'd like to about God, we do know everything we need to know. God loves us. He loves us not because of who we are but in spite of all that. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. He did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world. He sent Jesus that through His love, the world might be saved. Through Jesus Christ we receive the gifts of faith, forgiveness and eternal life. God gives us these gifts because He wants what is best for us. He asks only that we receive them with joy and thanksgiving. We don't need to explain, rationalize or second guess why God did this. God simply would have us believe.

The key to understanding what we need to know about the Holy Trinity is "keep it simple." We believe God is One. Within this Oneness, we have the dynamic relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God reaches out to us in love. He gives us His good gifts. He calls us to repentance and gives us faith to believe His promises. Although we can't fully comprehend the mystery, He helps us to receive and believe. Amen.


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01/31/2016
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11/22/2015
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October
10/25/2015
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09/27/2015
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August
08/30/2015
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July
07/26/2015
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June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
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06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
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05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
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March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
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03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
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January
01/25/2015
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December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
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12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
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11/02/2014
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10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
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08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
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06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
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