Holy Trinity – “Trinity” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon this morning is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

Have you ever played the board game Life before? You get a car, spin the dial, and move spaces around the board. You get married, have kids, buy a house, and get regular paydays. The winner is the one with the most money at the end, and you retire to millionaire acres. But one of the first decisions you have to make in that game is whether to go into debt by going to college or just to head out into the world and get started right away. If you go to college, you typically have much better paydays and more opportunities to make money throughout the game. If you don’t go, you save a bunch of money at the beginning and get a head start on the rest of the players.

How you start the game of Life makes a huge difference in how the game goes. That’s true in real life as well. How you start makes a huge difference in what happens to your life.

That was certainly true for Jesus’ life. How He began as a human being made a huge difference in what happened in His life. He didn’t begin on His own, but with the unity of the whole Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Son right from conception. He is conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Father sends His Son to us.

That same triune God who was working together at His incarnation continues to do so throughout His life. Jesus begins His public ministry at His Baptism. There, the Holy Trinity is present. The Holy Spirit comes down as a dove and rests upon Jesus. The Father declares that Jesus is His beloved Son and that He is well pleased with Jesus. Jesus began His mission of salvation together with the Father and Holy Spirit, and all are active in completing our salvation. We see Him regularly in prayer with His Father, and the Holy Spirit is with Him every step of the way.

Then come the final days of His life. Now on the cross, Jesus is alone. Even His Father has abandoned Him as He goes through hell for us. But you can see the Father even in that loneliness and suffering – Jesus is carrying out His Father’s will by going to cross. On Easter morning, the Father raises Him from the dead. Later, when Jesus ascends into heaven, He sends His Holy Spirit into the Church.

Today, in our Gospel reading, Jesus gives to His disciples what is called the Great Commission. Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Most of the time when you hear this passage of Scripture, you think of one of two things: evangelism or Baptism. But this passage also teaches us something else: it teaches us the Holy Trinity.

In this text, the Lord Jesus Himself declares the identity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and you can’t find a better source for this than the Son Himself.

So, on this day, we celebrate who God is: the Holy Trinity, one God composed of three persons. We do not worship three gods, but one. We do not worship one God who puts on three different masks to deal with us; we worship three distinct persons of the one God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate what we cannot comprehend – the persons and identity of God. We know He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for He tells us. But beyond that, His being defies our logic.

How Jesus began His earthly life made a huge difference in what happened in His life. From beginning to end, the Trinity was wonderfully united in action for us. The same is true for our lives. How we start makes a huge difference. And for us in the Church, the triune God is our starting place. We begin by being baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This does something for us. It marks us as God’s beloved child. It gives to us His name, and connected to His name are a host of things. We have forgiveness of sins and everlasting life, granted to us by the work of the Son. We have the gift of faith, given to us by the Holy Spirit. This is work that is done on our behalf by a loving God who has created us. He desires to have the relationship with us that we had in the Garden. In order for that relationship to happen, Jesus had to come to be our Redeemer. Through His life, death, and resurrection, that relationship was restored.

Through all of history, the Trinity has been at work serving. Jesus, the Son of God, submits Himself to the authority of the Father. God the Father give His Son all authority in heaven and on earth. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son to fulfill their will. What do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do as almighty God? They serve one another. But the Father, Son and Holy Spirit don’t just serve each other: They serve you.

For you, God the Father provides all good things for this body and life, as well as for eternity. Especially, He has sacrificed His Son for your sins, and continues to shower all sorts of blessings upon you. For you, God the Son has gone to the cross and died for your salvation, and continues to give you forgiveness by His means of grace, through His Word and Sacraments. For you, God the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify you with the forgiveness of sins, that you might remain a member of the one, holy Christian Church.

This is your cause for rejoicing: the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present Father, Son and Holy Spirit have made you their disciple. They have washed away your sins and declare your salvation. The works of man cannot save you, but the work of the Holy Trinity can; and what is this work of the Holy Trinity: to forgive all of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Holy Trinity – “Disciple Making” (Matthew 28:16-20)

A-59 Holy Trinity (Mt 28.16-20)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

As the Church makes her transition from the festive season into the season of Pentecost, the “Time of the Church,” it is fitting that we begin by focusing our attention not on the Church itself but on the Creator and Sustainer of the Church’s life, the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we spoke in the Introit earlier, “Blessèd be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to him because he has shown his mercy to us.”

All three persons of the Trinity were present and active at the creation of the world, as we saw in our Old Testament reading from Genesis. Life cannot and does not exist apart from the divine life and cooperative work of the Holy Trinity. The Father clearly and decisively revealed His love for us and for all people by sending His Son Jesus, to live, die, rise, and ascend into heaven for us by sending His Spirit to bring us to faith in Jesus Christ, as we see recorded for us in the Book of Acts. Finally, as the Father sent the Son and the Spirit, so the triune God now sends us into the world to be His witnesses, assuring us that, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Our Gospel reading for today tells us that the disciples went to Galilee because Jesus told them to go and wait for Him. He told the women to have His brothers go to Galilee, that there they will see Him. When the disciples saw Him, they fell on their hands and knees, worshiping the Lord. This worship is the recognition of His deity, the adoration of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Only after the resurrection did the disciples engage in this form of adoration, for Jesus had died and risen again. He was no longer their Rabbi and friend, but He was now the Christ, the exalted Son of God, their risen Lord and Savior.

Jesus approached the disciples, some still worshiping and some doubting. He begins with a simple twelve-word sentence that sets up the rest of what He has to say to the disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Where does Jesus get such an authority? Satan tells Jesus in the Gospel of Luke when He is tempted that, “I will give You all their authority and splendor,” talking about the kingdoms of the world, “for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Unfortunately for Satan, he has no authority to exercise. The true authority came when Christ spread out His hands and feet on the cross, said His last words, “Father, into your hand I commit my Spirit,” and then breathed His last.

This authority is like no earthly authority. Jesus Himself shows His disciples the kingdoms of this world after the cross had been borne and points out the conquest His sacrifice and love shall achieve through the Gospel. This authority reduced demons to beggars and caused fearful citizens to plead for Jesus’ departure. This was done to demonstrate the Son’s authority on earth to forgive sins.

But what authority does Jesus receive? We know that it is all authority in heaven and on earth, but what does that constitute? It is the authority over heaven, all that lives and has its being, authority over the angels and archangels, and the powers, principalities, might, dominion, thrones and the saints in glory. This is authority that no one but God could give and it was given at the price of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our Gospel text for today provide the main reason of the disciples’ journey to Galilee: there is a job that is to be done and the disciples are the first that are tasked to do it. The job is nothing more than going out and making disciples of all nations. They are the make all nations followers of Jesus Christ. This was not an easy task to do. As the disciples traveled, they would come into contact with the various ethnic groups of the world. Some would be eager to hear their message of Jesus Christ, while others would be very hostile in their response. Regardless, the cure for sin was to be made known to each and every nation; for all nations are sinners, all have souls in need of redemption, and all are in need of and are capable of salvation through the grace of God that comes through Jesus Christ.

As we are given to call today’s text the “Great Commission,” we must remember that all things stem from the Father. Mission begins in the heart of God the Father and expresses His great love for the world. This heart of mission has been with God from the very beginning. In looking at the Old Testament reading for today, we see how God, along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, create all things. In the next chapter of Genesis, we see how God’s creation revolts against God’s command and the length that the Father goes to in order to restore creation unto Himself. He makes a promise to creation that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as He comes to lay down His life in order to redeem this sinful and fallen world.

God’s mission centers in God the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the promised Messiah sent by the Father to reconcile the world to Himself by His life, death, and resurrection. By His life, He perfectly satisfied all the demands of God’s Law. By His suffering and death on the cross, Jesus atoned for the sin of the world, suffered the wrath of God for all people, crushed the head of the devil, and opened wide the gates of heaven.

Through the work of the Holy Spirit, faith is granted to the individual so that he may believe. He enables God’s people throughout the history of the Church to confess that “Jesus is Lord!” And so our Lord commands the disciples to make disciples from the people by baptizing and teaching. We baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We teach of all that our God has done for us: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When you are baptized in the name of the Trinity, it conveys certain things. We inherit the Father’s love, the Son’s redemption, and the Holy Spirit’s gift of fruitful faith. We continue to spread the Gospel to others as we have heard it spread to us. We are privileged to go out and make disciples of all nations, of sharing the Gospel message that we ourselves have heard: Christ crucified for me and Christ crucified for you. Christ died for my sins and Christ dies for your sins.

As Christ prepares the disciples for this great task of making more disciples, He tells them, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus assures His followers that He will be with us every single day until the completion of time. He assures the Church that she will never be alone in her work of spreading the Gospel.

As the baptized believers of Jesus Christ, we have been made His disciples. We continue in the long line of the saints gone before us of making disciples and adding to the ranks of the Church, that all would hear of the saving message of Jesus Christ, that they too would receive the gift of everlasting life that comes through what Jesus has done for us. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Holy Trinity–“Trinity” (John 8:48-59)

C-64 Holy TrinityGrace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

It’s that time of year again, when we pull off the Athanasian Creed from the shelf, dust it off, say it one time, then put it back on the shelf until next year. Some might wonder what’s the point in speaking this Creed or even having it if we only say it once a year. It is important that the Church have this Creed, as well as speak it, because it confesses all that is necessary for salvation.

As we look at our Gospel reading today, once again Jesus is coming under fire for what He has said and done. Stung by the unveiled truth from Jesus’ lips regarding who He is and who His Father is, the Jews resorted to name-calling. They call Jesus a Samaritan, something that is downright nasty. Why is this such a big deal, being called a Samaritan? When Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan, an expert of the Law tried to test Jesus and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. The response was to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Wanting further clarification, he asked who was his neighbor. Jesus then goes on to tell the parable of the good Samaritan. In short, a man is beaten and left for dead. A priest and a Levite both pass by the man as he lays dying. It is a Samaritan, someone who is an outcast and considered public enemy of the Jews who helps the beaten man. Here, for the Jews to call Jesus a Samaritan, they sought to ensure that Jesus had no credibility among the Jews.

To make matters worse, they accused Jesus of being demon-possessed because He spoke such nonsense that He was the Son of God, that He knows the Father intimately, that He is, dare He say it, the Messiah. What Jesus says here is the proverbial nail in the coffin: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” Surely this man must be a raving lunatic. Everyone dies, that’s the truth of it. Yes, there were the exceptions of Enoch and Elijah, but they don’t really count for the Jews here as they accuse Jesus.

Our Gospel reading for today shows how crucial the truth about Jesus is: Jesus, as the Son of the Father from eternity, gives us life. That is what Jesus tries to teach yet again, and once again, the people doubt and do not believe.

Rejecting the person and work of Christ rejects the Trinity. The Jewish leadership intentionally attempted to dishonor Jesus, referring to Him as a religious outcast and demon-possessed. They attempted to nullify His message. As a result, they were dishonoring the Father, in sum, the entire Trinity. Jesus comes to honor the Father. He does that by living the sinless and perfect life we were meant to live. He lives that sinless and perfect life in our place, dying on the cross having committed no sin Himself, but taking our sin upon Himself.

Today is no different than it was then. Today, various religious groups dishonor Christ and His work, thus dishonoring the Trinity as well. Islam views Christianity as distorted and calls Jesus merely a human prophet. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, who claim to be Christian, see Jesus as a good, but not the eternal Son of God being of one substance with the Father. You have the prosperity preachers and prosperity Gospel that views Jesus as some divine vending machine, that by saying the right things or doing the right things in life will reward our faithfulness with worldly success and happiness. This view ignores our sin and our need for a Savior from sin. It overlooks Jesus’ role in the Trinity as the truly divine and human Redeemer from sin.

Throughout her history, the Church has had problems with the understanding of the Trinity. Everytime there was serious debate regarding the Trinity, the Church produced a creed, a statement of faith acknowledging who the Trinity is and the work of each part of the Trinity. Beginning with the Apostles’ Creed, we have the breakdown of the Trinity and what each person of the Trinity did. However, the Church continued to argue who the Trinity is and what each part of the Trinity does, and so it produced the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was due in part to the teaching that although the Son was divine, he was a created being and therefore not co-essential with the Father. This made Jesus less than the Father. To further combat the false teachings of the day, the Athanasian Creed was written. It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated.

But even before all of the Creeds of the Church, Jesus clearly said who He was. He identified from where He came from: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” I AM was a divine name of God. He also says in our text, “I honor my Father.” Throughout the Gospels, Jesus says that He is the Son of God, that He comes from the Father and that He will one day return to His Father. The Jews wanted nothing to hear of this and did not glorify Jesus because they didn’t really know their own God anymore. For them to say they knew God but then to reject Jesus made them liars. They had lost sight of the Word of God that promised Christ’s coming. They had kept God’s Word only selectively and added to it. Jesus was keeping God’s Word to the letter. Each claim Jesus made confirmed the feelings of the unbelieving Jews and their hearts continued to harden.

Does this sound familiar to you, having the Word of God before us but rejecting it? That is the picture of today. Here is God’s Word clearly presented before us and yet we continue to disbelieve. Jesus tells of His mission of salvation time and time again and yet we want nothing to do with it. Jesus was sent by the Father to give life. All who keep His word will never see death, that is, those who have faith in Him and His saving act of salvation will inherit eternal life. It is only by the forgiveness won for us by Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, are we granted eternal life.

Today as we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday, we take joy in the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for the saving work they have done in our lives: God the Father creating us, God the Son redeeming us by His blood, and God the Holy Spirit giving to us faith, keeping us steadfast in our Christian faith so that we receive the Lamb’s crown of life. As we said in our Introit earlier, “Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to him because he has shown his mercy to us.” In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

The Holy Trinity–“Trinity” (Matthew 28:16-20)

A-59 Holy Trinity (Mt 28.16-20)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon this morning is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

Have you ever played the board game Life before? You get a car, spin the dial, and move spaces around the board. You get married, have kids, buy a house, and get regular paydays. The winner is the one with the most money at the end, and you retire to millionaire acres. But one of the first decisions you have to make in that game is whether to go into debt by going to college or just to head out into the world and get started right away. If you go to college, you typically have much better paydays and more opportunities to make money throughout the game. If you don’t go, you save a bunch of money at the beginning and get a head start on the rest of the players.

How you start the game of Life makes a huge difference in how the game goes. That’s true in real life as well. How you start makes a huge difference in what happens to your life.

That was certainly true for Jesus’ life. How He began as a human being made a huge difference in what happened in His life. He didn’t begin on His own, but with the unity of the whole Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Son right from conception. He is conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Father sends His Son to us.

That same triune God who was working together at His incarnation continues to do so throughout His life. Jesus begins His public ministry at His Baptism. There, the Holy Trinity is present. The Holy Spirit comes down as a dove and rests upon Jesus. The Father declares that Jesus is His beloved Son and that He is well pleased with Jesus. Jesus began His mission of salvation together with the Father and Holy Spirit, and all are active in completing our salvation. We see Him regularly in prayer with His Father, and the Holy Spirit is with Him every step of the way.

Then come the final days of His life. Now on the cross, Jesus is alone. Even His Father has abandoned Him as He goes through hell for us. But you can see the Father even in that loneliness and suffering – Jesus is carrying out His Father’s will by going to cross. On Easter morning, the Father raises Him from the dead. Later, when Jesus ascends into heaven, He sends His Holy Spirit into the Church.

Today, in our Gospel reading, Jesus gives to His disciples what is called the Great Commission. Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Most of the time when you hear this passage of Scripture, you think of one of two things: evangelism or Baptism. But this passage also teaches us something else: it teaches us the Holy Trinity.

In this text, the Lord Jesus Himself declares the identity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and you can’t find a better source for this than the Son Himself.

So, on this day, we celebrate who God is: the Holy Trinity, one God composed of three persons. We do not worship three gods, but one. We do not worship one God who puts on three different masks to deal with us; we worship three distinct persons of the one God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate what we cannot comprehend – the persons and identity of God. We know He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for He tells us. But beyond that, His being defies our logic.

How Jesus began His earthly life made a huge difference in what happened in His life. From beginning to end, the Trinity was wonderfully united in action for us. The same is true for our lives. How we start makes a huge difference. And for us in the Church, the triune God is our starting place. We begin by being baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This does something for us. It marks us as God’s beloved child. It gives to us His name, and connected to His name are a host of things. We have forgiveness of sins and everlasting life, granted to us by the work of the Son. We have the gift of faith, given to us by the Holy Spirit. This is work that is done on our behalf by a loving God who has created us. He desires to have the relationship with us that we had in the Garden. In order for that relationship to happen, Jesus had to come to be our Redeemer. Through His life, death, and resurrection, that relationship was restored.

Through all of history, the Trinity has been at work serving. Jesus, the Son of God, submits Himself to the authority of the Father. God the Father give His Son all authority in heaven and on earth. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son to fulfill their will. What do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do as almighty God? They serve one another. But the Father, Son and Holy Spirit don’t just serve each other: They serve you.

For you, God the Father provides all good things for this body and life, as well as for eternity. Especially, He has sacrificed His Son for your sins, and continues to shower all sorts of blessings upon you. For you, God the Son has gone to the cross and died for your salvation, and continues to give you forgiveness by His means of grace, through His Word and Sacraments. For you, God the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify you with the forgiveness of sins, that you might remain a member of the one, holy Christian Church.

This is your cause for rejoicing: the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present Father, Son and Holy Spirit have made you their disciple. They have washed away your sins and declare your salvation. The works of man cannot save you, but the work of the Holy Trinity can; and what is this work of the Holy Trinity: to forgive all of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.