John 3:1-7; Romans 11:33-36; Isaiah 6:1-7
Vicar Zachary Marklevitz


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Nicodemus admired Jesus, even though Nicodemus was a Pharisee. This is why he came to Jesus at night. The darkness of night covered Nicodemus’ actions and hid him from his fellow peers—other Pharisees. In some sense, Nicodemus saw Jesus coming from God. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good teacher, which was a common description of Jesus. He was killed because he claimed to be more; Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed to have come into this world to reveal the will of His Father and to send His Spirit.


    Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus was as unclear to him as the darkness of the night. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus was speaking beyond human understanding. He was speaking of heavenly things. Often we imagine heavenly things to be abstract and not applying to us in practical ways. Many of us imagine heaven in a dream-like fog and a place above the clouds that only affects us in some sense. We imagine the angels and those who have been called to their eternal home as vapor-like and lacking substance. This is not the kingdom of God of which Jesus speaks.


Jesus speaks of heavenly things to be more real than earthly. “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” Jesus is not speaking of His own testimony, but His testimony along with the Father and Holy Spirit!

Holy Trinity Sermon
John 3:1-7; Romans 11:33-36; Isaiah 6:1-7
Vicar Zachary Marklevitz


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Nicodemus admired Jesus, even though Nicodemus was a Pharisee. This is why he came to Jesus at night. The darkness of night covered Nicodemus’ actions and hid him from his fellow peers—other Pharisees. In some sense, Nicodemus saw Jesus coming from God. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good teacher, which was a common description of Jesus. He was killed because he claimed to be more; Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed to have come into this world to reveal the will of His Father and to send His Spirit.


    Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus was as unclear to him as the darkness of the night. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus was speaking beyond human understanding. He was speaking of heavenly things. Often we imagine heavenly things to be abstract and not applying to us in practical ways. Many of us imagine heaven in a dream-like fog and a place above the clouds that only affects us in some sense. We imagine the angels and those who have been called to their eternal home as vapor-like and lacking substance. This is not the kingdom of God of which Jesus speaks.


Jesus speaks of heavenly things to be more real than earthly. “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” Jesus is not speaking of His own testimony, but His testimony along with the Father and Holy Spirit!


We don’t understand the mysteries of God. As Luther said, “Reason is so blind that it can neither perceive nor understand the things of God.” We don’t understand one God is three persons. We don’t understand how an infant can be given faith, or how Jesus’ body and His blood comes to us each Divine Service, yet we confess these things by faith. Others mock us and call us blind because of faith, but Jesus calls us blessed, for whoever believes will have eternal life. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?”


God’s reveals His mysteries through faith by grace alone. This is why there is great value in the history and traditions of God’s Church. Church Confessions, such as the Athanasian Creed, give us the words to proclaim our faith. It gives us words for the reality of heavenly things. We cannot explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity without easily confessing falseness or heresy. Still, we’re able to confess and proclaim this heavenly mystery through words of saints years ago: “For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another. But the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.” In faith we have received this revelation from our loving God.


The kingdom of God includes the whole earth. Isaiah said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” There isn’t a great chasm that divides the earth and holiness of heaven. God’s kingdom comes to us here on earth. We’re able to partake in heavenly things now!


When it comes to faith, we fail to remain faithful. Jesus said, “We speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen.” Yet, we don’t always know God’s will. We don’t know why certain things happen the way they do. Instead of trusting God, we give into our flesh by denying the situation, or carrying the pain, or becoming angry, or reacting out of desperation.


We sin. We fail to see what God has revealed to us in His Son Jesus Christ. In times of uncertainty, we fail to recall the Son of God lifted up on a cross for our sins. Instead, we look to things we think we know and fully understand—earthly things. But all earthly things fall short of God’s holiness, including us.


We are saved by “He who descended from heaven, Son of Man.” Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness for the sick to be healed. Jesus was lifted up for the sick in sin to be healed. Jesus, Son of Man, was lifted up on the cross to die for our sickness, to die for all of our sins and “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” THIS is heavenly things on earth! The heavenly Father saves His people by giving up His Son. In the Introit we sang, “Yet you made [Jesus] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned Him with glory and honor.” In Psalm 16, the psalmists wrote, “You, [God], make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is joy.” Jesus, the good teacher, did more than teach goodness and morality. He was crowned for our glory and honor and took our immorality, our failures, and our sicknesses unto Himself. He is the path of life for us. Now our sins are covered like the darkness of the night! Jesus Christ has brought life to us by His holiness. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is the reality of heavenly things!


He continues to bring us life and forgiveness here on earth. In His presence there is joy! “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Through the means of grace, the Holy Spirit is combined with water and brings us the inheritance of God through Jesus Christ. This is heaven on earth! In Baptism we are born again “and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The mystery of Baptism is a birth as real as our earthly birth. We are more than children of our parents, but we become children of the Triune God through Baptism. This birth may give us eternal life by the grace of God. This is a heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus still comes to us in His body and His blood at the altar. Isaiah’s words help picture what takes place as we receive Jesus’ body and blood, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” This is heaven on earth! This is the reality of heavenly things. This forgiveness that we receive as children of God makes us holy and saves us through Christ. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”


“O God! How unsearchable are Your judgments and how inscrutable are Your ways!”
“To Him be the glory forever.”
In the name of Jesus. Amen.   

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a