SERMON FOR THE HOLY TRINITY, May 26, 2013
Vicar Kyle Backhaus

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, It may appear at first from our Gospel text that the Jews, whom Jesus encountered, were nothing but a bunch of over zealous bullies, calling Jesus names. First they call Him a Samaritan. This was the worst curse that they could heave in Jesus’ direction. This slur meant that Jesus was a religious half-breed at best, that His religious teachings and words could not and would not carry any authority in their presence. The Samaritan’s were a people who had inherited their Jewish heritage through marriage. Their practice of Judaism was an abomination in the sight of true Jews.  Then they said “He has a demon!”  His words were so heretical that they assumed that He must be possessed.  His own words justified the Jews labels in their minds and they dismissed all that Jesus had said.  


By this exchange the words of Jesus were fulfilled.  This defamation is preceded by some strong words from Jesus.  Just prior to our text Jesus said to the Jews, “Why do you not understand what I say?  It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”  

The matter at hand was much more then just name calling and accusations. Jesus denies their charge and gets right to the heart of the matter. Jesus was glorifying His Heavenly Father, but they chose to dishonor Him. When faith is denied and human reason is left to its own desires, the only conclusion that can be made is similar to the conclusion of the Jews, Jesus is a madman. By denying Jesus’ words, the Jews were dishonoring the Father. Jesus was not making claims or saying things to bring Himself glory but He was seeking to glorify His Father in heaven.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. It is often considered the one day of the year entirely devoted to a doctrine.  In the minds of some this may sound un-biblical. Or like the church has decided to take a day off from the Bible to observe a doctrine, a man made creed which manipulates the nature and essence of God into what we want. But nothing could be further from the truth. Things do not exist because we say so. In fact quite the opposite is true. More often than not, we coin terms in and around things that we know and understand.

SERMON FOR THE HOLY TRINITY, May 26, 2013
Vicar Kyle Backhaus

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, It may appear at first from our Gospel text that the Jews, whom Jesus encountered, were nothing but a bunch of over zealous bullies, calling Jesus names. First they call Him a Samaritan. This was the worst curse that they could heave in Jesus’ direction. This slur meant that Jesus was a religious half-breed at best, that His religious teachings and words could not and would not carry any authority in their presence. The Samaritan’s were a people who had inherited their Jewish heritage through marriage. Their practice of Judaism was an abomination in the sight of true Jews.  Then they said “He has a demon!”  His words were so heretical that they assumed that He must be possessed.  His own words justified the Jews labels in their minds and they dismissed all that Jesus had said.  


By this exchange the words of Jesus were fulfilled.  This defamation is preceded by some strong words from Jesus.  Just prior to our text Jesus said to the Jews, “Why do you not understand what I say?  It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” 


The matter at hand was much more then just name calling and accusations. Jesus denies their charge and gets right to the heart of the matter. Jesus was glorifying His Heavenly Father, but they chose to dishonor Him. When faith is denied and human reason is left to its own desires, the only conclusion that can be made is similar to the conclusion of the Jews, Jesus is a madman. By denying Jesus’ words, the Jews were dishonoring the Father. Jesus was not making claims or saying things to bring Himself glory but He was seeking to glorify His Father in heaven.  

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. It is often considered the one day of the year entirely devoted to a doctrine.  In the minds of some this may sound un-biblical. Or like the church has decided to take a day off from the Bible to observe a doctrine, a man made creed which manipulates the nature and essence of God into what we want. But nothing could be further from the truth. Things do not exist because we say so. In fact quite the opposite is true. More often than not, we coin terms in and around things that we know and understand. 


Jesus proves this point when it comes to the Trinity. Jesus speaks at great length about His Father in our text, and how He is coequal, and His co-eternal existence with Him.  He says “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus in this “I AM” statement, points to the fact that He is the Son of the Father who was Abraham’s God in the Old Testament. He is the God who was on Mount Horeb with Moses, who said, “I am who I Am.”

 

Judging by the reaction of Jews, who picked up stones to kill Him, they knew and understood what Jesus was saying about who He was, but they wanted none of it. They did not want to hear His words, they didn’t want to glorify the Father, but wanted to glorify themselves. The Jews revert back to what they are comfortable with, the Law. They sought to honor God by keeping the command of Leviticus which says “He who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him.”  By their actions the Jews prove that what Jesus had just said prior to our text was true, that they are murderers just like their father, the devil.


Human nature does not want to hear or speak about God for who He truly is. All the way from the Jews in John’s Gospel to us today, not one of us wants to speak of God in the way He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. We want religion to do something for us, or we want religion as simply something to do. We want a religion that makes us feel good, that makes life better, that benefits us emotionally, or financially, or even just to give us good friends to be around. The true nature and identity of God in the Trinity takes a back seat to how God can make our lives more comfortable.       


Many preachers pack stadiums when the topic of the message is about us, our lives, our marriages, our relationships, our health, our finances, our careers and our success. They preach on these and a wealth of other topics. The one topic that always seems to be missing is the mystery of the Triune God being revealed in the crucified flesh of Jesus. Jesus’ innocent suffering and death show us the true heart of God. God is our creator, our judge and our redeemer in the Trinity. He is not three persons just to prove that He is mysterious, but to work salvation for man, to give life, light, and love to all of mankind. The reading from Acts says, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.  Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this, that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”


True religion and Christianity is not about how God can make us a better person, or how He can make us feel better. It is all about what God has done for us in His Son Jesus Christ and what He is doing for us now.  It is all about the cross of Christ, showing us the mind and heart of who God is and what He is about. Peter said it best when he said “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” This is what God’s plan was. And God through His plan and foreknowledge has brought you and Evelyn into a relationship with Him. This relationship came into existence on His terms, not yours. This is exactly what Jesus speaks of when He say, “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”


To “keep my word” means more than just following the rules. To keep means that the word of Jesus dwells in the believer. It becomes a part of who we are. Jesus is actually joined with person. This is what happens in Holy Baptism. The one who established the fountains of the deep, He who assigned the sea its limit, assigned to the waters of your baptism an unlimited fountain of forgiveness. In those sacred waters He brought you and Evelyn into a community of believers, and you have been joined into a relationship with the flesh of Jesus. In baptism you were joined to God, and have


Our relationship with God is not meant to be just a temporary benefit package. Through that relationship God delivers forgiveness of sins, which saves us from eternal death. The only antidote to eternal death is the words of Jesus. It is only through the Triune God working salvation that we can be saved. The Father sent His only Son to be wounded for our transgressions, and the work of the Holy Spirit is to make known those life giving wounds to all people. If we truly knew and believed that the center of the Christian religion is the Son of God’s blood stained cross than we should leave behind our self absorbed desires.


We should cry out “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” But mercy has become something only for the weak. And we are all weak, for we all are heading to the same end, death. But as we heard in Acts, It was not possible for death to keep its hold on Him; He loosed the pangs of death! Just as the grave could not hold the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, so you who are children of man will not remain dead.

We are the Children of man and God is our Judge.  God seeks justice and righteousness, but He also shows mercy.  This is the wonderful mystery of the Holy Trinity that God, the condemner of sin, rejoices and delights in us through His word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a