Worship, Doubts, and Jesus’ Authority
Matthew 28:16-20
Vicar Christopher Stout

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

That Name by which we invoke God in this Divine Service - that Name that we are to call upon in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks - that Name which we have been baptized into and which has been placed on and remains with us – is the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

As we gather together today, in the very presence of the God invoked, we confess this creed that we only confess as a Church body but once a year. If, as these words roll of your tongue, you seem a bit confused – or if, as you confess this catholic (as in a small “c” meaning universal) Christian faith, part of you just can’t imagine how this is true – or if, as the Holy Spirit leads you to speak, your sinful nature still has doubts; then you’re not alone. “Now, the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped him, but some doubted (Matthew 28:16-17)” 







Worship, Doubts, and Jesus’ Authority
Matthew 28:16-20
Vicar Christopher Stout

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

That Name by which we invoke God in this Divine Service - that Name that we are to call upon in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks - that Name which we have been baptized into and which has been placed on and remains with us – is the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

As we gather together today, in the very presence of the God invoked, we confess this creed that we only confess as a Church body but once a year. If, as these words roll of your tongue, you seem a bit confused – or if, as you confess this catholic (as in a small “c” meaning universal) Christian faith, part of you just can’t imagine how this is true – or if, as the Holy Spirit leads you to speak, your sinful nature still has doubts; then you’re not alone. “Now, the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped him, but some doubted (Matthew 28:16-17)” 

Now these disciples had not just confessed the Athanasian Creed or concluded their Introit with the Glory be the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, or invoked the Triune God in the Divine Service. They had, however, heard the preaching of the Son, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20), to proclaim He is from the Father, He was going back to the Father, and whoever has the Father has the Son. They had witnessed the Father delivering up the Son for the sake of the world, and the Son being delivered up and crying, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken Me!” and “Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit.”  The Holy Spirit was living and active in them to create, sustain, and strengthen their faith as is evidenced by this: when they saw (Jesus), they worshipped Him.   

Yet, flesh and blood was present too with its reasoning and misgivings and doubts. At the same time, within the same people, some doubted. The word does not indicate complete refusal or unbelief, but doubts or wavering; it can literally mean “to be of two minds” about something. And so it is, within you, and within me, those two minds, those two opposing, yet at the same time true, confessions; “Lord I believe in the Holy Trinity, I believe I am sinful, I believe in the grace the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit gave and gives to me, help my unbelief. Lord, you have led me to be in Your presence to receive from You Your gifts in true worship, but there are still some doubts.” 

Our adversaries abound in the world. Our adversary, the devil, is powerful and hunts for prey. Lest we forget, however, that adversaries don’t just come from outside but actually come from within us, too. As long as we have this flesh sticking to us, worship and doubts go hand in hand for the Christian life. “And when they saw Him they worshipped Him, but some doubted.”  You have met an enemy and it is you. I have met an enemy, and it is me.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and 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 them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).”  Our Lord has authority and He uses that authority for your sake to teach and to cleanse you with water and His Word. All authority has been given to this Jesus, authority to judge you not on your sins and actions, but on His action of bearing your sins on cross. All authority has been given to Him and He uses it to always be with you. O, how that is needed!

The authority we have, we so often neglect or abuse. Husbands, by nature, treat headship as Lordship rather than use it to sacrificially, day in, and day out, lay down their life for their wife. “Why do that?  That doesn’t sound very advantageous for me!”  Parents can abuse their authority in anger and frustration, rather than leading by example and teaching their children in the way of the Lord. Authority given to us to love and serve those in our lives is often neglected due to laziness, lack of motivation, or pursuits that seemingly have a little more personal gain.

Yet, lack of authority given to us can be equally as damaging to our ego. Rather than willingly submit to those God has given over us, we willfully, whether in thought, words, or deed, revolt against His created order. Authority we have, we by nature abuse!  Authority we don’t have, we so often long for.

How great was the need for He, through whom all things were created, to be made man and use authority given to Him perfectly while at the same time perfectly submitting Himself to those who had authority over Him!  How great was the need for the Son of God, who had all authority from the beginning, with the Father and Holy Spirit, to submit Himself under the authority of His Father, who hates sin, and be made sin and bear that punishment for us! How great was need for “this Jesus to be delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God to be crucified and killed by lawless men” (Acts 2) for the sake of we lawless men and women and our abuse of authority and all our sins and fleshly doubts!  How great is the need for this Jesus to use His authority to cleanse us in Baptism and give us His forgiveness! 

This Trinity Sunday, we confess the Athanasian Creed with the faith given to us by Holy Spirit. We confess that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. We confess because there are questions in the world, in us, about what we believe. We confess this creed because that’s what Scripture teaches.

However, with more emphasis, we confess God’s love; within Himself and for us. To understand and see the Trinity, the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead you to think of apples or shamrocks or the three phases of water. He gives you to think of the cross of Jesus and therein love from God as deep as His nature. He gives you to think of your Baptism and therein a gracious mystery of incorporating you into His holy Name. He gives you to think of the present Triune God here to serve you in all your doubts and weaknesses and forgive you of all your sins.

You want to see the Trinity?  Look at the cross of the Christ. There the Father handed over the Son for your peace and forgiveness. There the Holy Spirit keeps pointing you back to, even as He brings to you the fruits of that act of love now.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 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