Tag Archives: God’s law

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

The Fullness of God

Today is Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the unity of God in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is complete in three persons. Each one of these persons is God. God is all three. God is not divided. Reading from Deuteronomy:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.   (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Let us look the separate ministries of each of the three Persons of the Trinity and see how they support and complete one another.

We will start with the ministry of God the Father. In our Old Testament passage today the Prophet Isaiah sees a vision of God the Father sitting on his throne:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”   (Isaiah 6:1-3)

God the Father is Holy. He is pure. He is absolutely good. His glorious presence makes us very aware of out sins. Isaiah said:

“Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”   (Isaiah 6:5)

God the Father is in total control of the universe. He sets the rules. He alone determines what is right and wrong. He alone is the one who judges sin. He alone can also forgive sin. This is what he decided to do for Isaiah:

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The tseraph[b] touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”   (Isaiah 6:6-8)

Isaiah could do nothing to eradicate his sin. Only God could do that. What he did for Isaiah he can do for us. Isaiah prophesied how the Father would deal with our sn. He foretold the coming of the Messiah:

He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.   (Isaiah 53:3-6)

The Apostle Paul proclaimed that there is one God. But he also illuminated on the ministry of the Holy trinity:

For there is one God;
    there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
   who gave himself a ransom for all.   (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

God the Father judges sin, but Jesus, who is God the Son, is our mediator.

Let us look at todays Gospel reading. God explains the new birth to Nicodemus:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.   (John 3:16-17)

This is the message of salvation. But this is not all that Jesus said to Nicodemus. He also said:

“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”   (John 3:5-8)

Jesus has introduced us to the ministry of God, the Holy Spirit. Later, Jesus spoke to his disciples about his departure from this world, he comforted them with the promise of the Holy Spirit:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.   (John 14:15-17)

The Spirit is our helper and guide to a Holy life. His ministry is essential. The Apostle Paul

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ– if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.   (Romans 8:12-17)

Are we children of God? If so, we are led by the Spirit. That is choice we must make. To be a new creation in Christ our old worldly self must come under the authority of the Spirit.

God, in his fullness, is found in the Holy Trinity. This is true of his ministry to us as well. Do we know him this way? Today, he is calling us to embrace all that he has given us. Are we willing to give him all of ourselves?

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Third Sunday in Lent

The Wisdom of God

In order for us to grasp God’s plan for our salvation we need to understand his wisdom. Worldly wisdom will never understand his plan. The Apostle Paul wrote:

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”   (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)

The key to understanding God’s plan is the cross. It it the very foundation of God’s wisdom. The Pharisees did not understand this. They relied on their own wisdom. They held on to their interpretation of Mosaic Law. But they failed to understand even the law.

The very essence of the Law is that God must be first in our lives. In Exoodus we read

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.   (Exodus 20:1-2)

The Pharisees replaced God with their own gods. They understood that they must obey the law, but deep now they must have realized that they failed. So they redefined the to be set of rules that they thought they could follow. They made up the rules which they used to judge whether or not someone else was following their rules properly. What they failed to understand was the purpose of why the law was given by God.

The law was powerless to produce righteousness. The Apostle Paul wrote:

 as it is written:

“There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who has understanding,
        there is no one who seeks God.   (Romans 3:10-11)

The law was given so that we might understand what sin is. Again, Paul wrote:

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.   (Galatians 3:23-26)

The law was our schoolmaster. It pointed out the problem. It could not solve the problem. The fulfillment of the law came only through Jesus. Jesus said:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.   (Matthew 5:17-18)

Jesus fulfilled the law by the cross. He lived the righteous life that God, the Father, required of us. And he bore our sins upon the cross and took the punishment for them which we deserved. He became our Temple by making a sacrifice for our sins once and for all. In today’s Gospel we find Jesus cleansing the Temple by throwing out the money changers:

The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.   (John 2:18-22)

The cross was and is both the wisdom and power of God. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.   (1 Corinthians 1:20-24)

The Pharisees were governed by a “worldly” wisdom, which was not a wisdom at all. It is a wisdom promised to us by Satan. He told Eve that if she ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge she would be wise, like God. This was a lie. The Apostle Paul contrasted the wisdom of God and of the world.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.   (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)

The best that the worldly wisdom could do was to “crucify the Lord of glory.”

Which wisdom are we operating from today? The world’s or God’s? We need to ask ourselves: Are we attempting to lesson the requirements of God’s law? We need the law to help us grasp the wisdom of God’s plan. In Proverbs we read:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.   (Proverbs 9:10)

We need to take sin seriously. The law teaches us that much.

Are we keeping score on others as did the Pharisees? This is a sure sign that we are missing the meaning of the cross. The cross was for Jesus to bear. But if we are to fully understand the power of the cross to defeat sin, we must understand that we have a cross to bear as well. Jesus said:

Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.   (Luke 9:23-24)

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